Hybrid workers embrace anytime working and say their office culture has changed forever. While many workers have reaped the benefits, working from home has not been a smooth transition for everyone.
Concerns over discrimination, career progression, and noise weigh on employees’ minds.
Also the lines between anytime working and being ‘always on’ are blurring with more than half of UK workers -according to a new survey shared with City A.M. today – feel that the rise in remote working has meant they are ‘always on’ and always available, leaving them unable to relax or switch off from work.
Being expected to work outside of their hours was listed as the second biggest drawback of working from home, after having less fun with colleagues, according to the report by audio and video meeting producer Poly.
Moreover, difficulty collaborating, lack of IT support and lack of equipment to enable home working are listed within the top five drawbacks of working from home, suggesting many employees have not been provided with the right tools to work effectively.
Also, nearly half said they worried about missing out on learning from peers and seniors when working from home. A further 52 per cent think hybrid or home workers could be discriminated against or treated differently to employees in the office full-time.
Anytime working should not be confused with being always on.Paul Clark
“While many are enjoying the benefits of hybrid working, such the work-life balance, lie ins, and family time, others are feeling side-lined and disconnected,” said Paul Clark, senior vice president of EMEA at Poly.
“Businesses cannot afford to lose talent so must offer the best working experience possible to all its employees, no matter where they are located,” Clark told City A.M. today.
The research suggests that there are very mixed feelings about the return to office. While many have missed the camaraderie and connection of seeing colleagues and clients, others are feeing anxious and worry their performance will suffer.
What is evident is that for many, the changes of the past year are here to stay – with 64 per cent of workers saying that office culture has ‘changed forever’.
As a result, while many intend to return to the office, the role of the office and office etiquette are likely to evolve.
The survey suggests noise will be a particular hot button for returning workers, with the potential to cause friction between workers as 56 per cent expressed concern that noise levels in the office will make them less productive.
Also, 42 per cent worrying they will be prone to “noise rage” if their colleagues are too loud and 60 per cent think they’ll get fed up if their noisy co-workers break their concentration.
In addition, 40 per cent fear that they will be more prone to outbursts in the office now that they’re unable to mute themselves or turn their cameras off
Banter and lunches
Despite the concerns, workers are looking forward to having more person-to-person interactions.
Office banter, going for lunch with clients/ colleagues and office camaraderie are listed as the top three things workers miss about the office. The findings also highlight how the role of the office will evolve.
When asked how people would see themselves using the office in the future, results tended to be practical and task oriented.
The ‘top three reasons to go back into the office’ were brainstorming and collaborating with colleagues, attending meetings and access to better equipment and technology.
Corporate image has also changed. Even industries such as financial services that have always expected employees to maintain a certain standard of dress are now becoming more relaxed.
Around 61 per cent of workers in finance think that hybrid working has brought about the death of the suit, and that wearing suits might go away for good, eight points higher than the average of 53 per cent.
“The role of the office and what people want to use it for is changing. It’s evident that people have craved human interaction since working from home and are looking forward to getting back to the office,” said Clark.
Finally, the impact remote working has had on young workers and how their careers could be in jeopardy was also looked into, with many worrying about the return to office.
Two fifths of respondents have been unable to visit their new office – either because the company had moved office, or they joined during the pandemic – a figure that rose to 62 per cent of 18–24-year-olds.
Of the young workers who have not yet visited their office, 72 per cent said the thought of visiting the office for the first time, and the potential noise levels, kept them awake at night.
Younger employees also worried about the impact of working remotely on their abilities to form relationships and communicate with their peers, with 52 per cent of workers aged 16-24 were concerned that working remotely would have a negative impact on their development and career progression, compared to the average of 43 per cent.
Meanwhile, 53 of 18–24-year-olds worry that remote working has made them less confident in their ability to communicate and work with colleagues effectively, compared to the average of 42 per cent.
Finally, half of young workers fear they have lost the art of small talk, compared to the average of 39 per cent.
Poly surveyed 7,261 hybrid workers from the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Poland and the United Arab Emirates. It examined how attitudes and behaviours have evolved, looking at everything from working patterns and culture, to frustration and noise, right down to what we wear.