Many employees miss coworkers, work-life separation

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About 82% of those in the US expressed comfort in returning to the physical workplace, finds a recent survey from the Conference Board. This is up from 71% in January 2022.

But that return to the workplace may be helpful, considering that 58% of workers say their work-life integration increased during the pandemic.

“While remote work surely provides a desirable work-life balance for many, these results suggest that the lack of clear boundaries in many remote-work arrangements can fuel stress and burnout,” says Rebecca Ray, executive vice-president for human capital at the Conference Board.

More than half (51%) of those working remotely are also concerned about limited connection with their colleagues and 47% are worried about blurred work-life boundaries. Thirty-four% said they care about the constant expectation to be available while 32% are anxious about increased hours or workload.

Employees are feeling more isolated from their organizations amid the pandemic, found another report released in September 2021.

Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) agree with their organization that returning to the physical workplace will enhance networking opportunities and build relationships. More than seven in 10 also agree that it will increase collaboration (72%) and help maintain culture (70%).

Physical workspace worries

However, one third (33 percent) of those in the actual workplace are concerned about the increased time and cost to commute. This is much more common among Millennials (59%) than Gen X workers (31%) and Baby Boomers (30%). Women (43%) are also much more concerned about this than men (25%).

Also, 26% of those in the office are still concerned about exposure to COVID-19. Millennials (35%) and women (30%) also express greater consternation about this compared with their counterparts (19% of Gen X, 31% of Baby Boomers and 21% of men).

Meanwhile, more than 70% of workers in the IT sector will quit their job if their employer forces them to head back to the office, according to another survey.

And many hybrid workers share the same concerns as remote and on-site workers: 41% are concerned with blurred work-life boundaries; 39% worry about limited connection with colleagues; and 31% are concerned with the increased time and cost of commuting.

“Rather than assuming a return to the office will be the panacea, leaders can also be proactive in helping to set and maintain more definitive work boundaries in this new world of work,” says Ray.

Many workers overall, self-report decreased mental health (41%), decreased engagement and morale (38%) and increased burnout (41%), according to the Conference Board’s survey of more than 1,300 individuals – predominantly professional and office workers – from March 14 to 18.

Another report found that 73% of workers and leaders are calling to be measured by outcomes and results rather than hours spent working, but only 36% of managers are assessing performance based on results.

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