Businesses that were initially doubtful about remote work are now realising the hidden potential of a remote workforce. Some companies have been able to transition so effectively that they are considering shifting employees to remote work permanently.

But, while many employees have adjusted well to working from their homes, our research found that the majority are keen to return to the office when it is safe. 65% of respondents told us they want to return to the office when things go back to normal.

For HR teams planning for how best to bring employees back into the workplace, knowing what employees do and don’t value about their home and office work environments, can help build a back to work strategy that is better for everyone.

What people miss about the office

1. Socialising with colleagues (53%)

For many of us, we spend most of our daily lives at work, so a lot of our social interactions happen in the workplace. When working offsite, quick catch-ups on your coffee break or popping over to your colleague’s desk are not possible. Accidental or spontaneous social interactions are difficult to recreate virtually, so it’s no wonder many employees miss this aspect of working onsite.

2. Office banter/jokes (46%)

When you’re working in a stressful environment or under immense pressure, light-hearted conversations and jokes can provide relief from a workplace atmosphere. Although there’s a fine line between office banter and bullying/harassment, being able to share good-natured jokes with colleagues is one of the things people miss most about the office.

3. Meeting with colleagues face-to-face (45%)

Thanks to video call platforms, we’re still able to keep in touch and ‘see’ colleagues, friends and family. But nothing beats having someone in front of you; you can miss out or even misread nuances in body language and tone of voice on video calls. You also lose the chance to see colleagues that you don’t directly work with, as most video call meetings are work-related. And if you’ve been using video calls substantially in your company, you might have experienced, like many others, video call fatigue.

4. Collaboration with colleagues (37%)

People miss the ability to turn to a desk-mate for a question or to approach a manager for some help/guidance. Certainly, there’s an array of project management and productivity tools that support team collaboration, but sometimes a quick catchup chat to make sure everyone is on the same page is just easier. Although emails and messaging apps make that possible, they can be lost or missed in a full inbox, meaning either a delayed response or no response at all.

5. Structured routine (37%)

For many employees, working from home for this long is a new experience, which caused a significant change in daily routine. Although some enjoy having more flexibility from homeworking, others still prefer the structured routine they’ve established after years of working in the office. Having two distinct places and time for work and homelife also helped separate work lives and private lives.

6. Office environment (29%)

Whether you work in a lively, buzzing workplace or a calm, quiet office, as long as it’s somewhere compatible with your working style and personality, it’s no surprise you’d miss that environment. Being in a pleasant, happy working environment is known to have a positive impact on people’s productivity and motivation.

What people DON’T miss about the office

1. Commute (58%)

With commute time taking an average UK employee 59 minutes daily, in addition to squeezing into crowded/delayed public transport or being stuck in congested traffic (not to mention the costs: petrol, travel card, etc.), it makes sense that a lot of people don’t miss it!

2. Politics (40%)

Politics is everywhere – it’s inescapable. It has a significant influence on the workplace atmosphere and a great impact on an employee’s job satisfaction. According to a Perkbox survey, work-related office politics is the number one stressor for employees. Due to the decreased social interaction, remote working has helped make office politics less visible for employees, and they seem happy for it to continue that way.

3. Dress code (38%)

Not having a dress code means one less decision in the mornings. For employees working in more formal settings, like finance or law firms, business attire is a must. Having to decide what to wear and ensuring it’s appropriate for work every day is one thing some are very satisfied to live without.

4. Noise/distractions (36%)

With most office employees working in an open-plan setting, it seems that not everyone can cope with the distractions: colleagues’ conversations, pens clicking, typing on keyboards, cluttered desks, etc are proving problematic. While some can tune out the distractions, over a third would prefer to work in a calm and quiet place.

For those that have had to work from home due to COVID-19, convenience is the biggest plus, but there’s no denying that people miss the social aspects of the workplace.

What do you miss about the office? Are you also considering encouraging more of your staff to work from home full time?

To discover how Cezanne HR’s online HR software will help you connect and engage your employees wherever they are, arrange an online demo today.

Hannah Mandapat author image

Hannah Mandapat

Marketing Executive

Hannah has over five years of experience in the technology space, having worked in various marketing roles involving copywriting, social media management, and email marketing.

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