Employees Unwilling to Give Up Pandemic Perks

While 30% feel lonely on a daily basis, most workers still want to work from home.

September 26, 2022

A recent report by Adaptavist found that employees in 2022 want to retain benefits they gained during the COVID-19 pandemic, even though their mental wellbeing might be at stake.

Ramifications of an Isolated Workforce

The report’s survey of 3,439 workers, conducted throughout the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia during the summer of 2022, revealed that nearly a third missed face-to-face communications and felt lonely every day. This number rose to almost 40% for asynchronous workers—workers who weren’t present with each other at the same time.

Employees, now dealing with a greater number of varied technological tools, are also feeling what the report referred to as “digital tool fatigue.” A fifth of respondents reported still searching for the right combination of collaboration tools that would fully satisfy their needs.

Shifted Work Expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic created a very different way of working for many employees, including working from home, working less hours, and being able to have more flexibility with those hours.

So, while the mental wellbeing of employees in a post-pandemic work world might be suffering, workers in 2022 don’t necessarily want to let go of any perceived benefits gained during the height of the pandemic.

Despite the loneliness reported by asynchronous workers, time flexibility was still desired by 42% of those surveyed. But flexibility does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. According to the report, while workers have more flexible time than ever before, they’re looking for flexibility that’s right for them—not their employer.

For some, that’s working less. Nearly half of those surveyed (47%) thought a four-day work week would work best for them, and 33% liked the idea of compressed hours. In fact, only 19% of those surveyed thought that the number of hours worked should be a benchmark for productivity. Instead, 58% thought the true measure of productivity should be the quality of their work.

And, while workers are reporting feelings of isolation, 37% also feel anxiety about returning to their physical workplace, with the commute being cited as the biggest cause of stress. Workers were also concerned about the extra costs associated with traveling to work.

In fact, nearly two-thirds of workers thought they should be allowed to choose where they work, with 59% preferring either a hybrid model or working fully remote. That said, only 44% of those surveyed work for an employer that allows them to do either. A little over a third said they could be enticed to come to back to their company’s workplace if they had more vacation time, and 41% cited flexible hours as an incentive to return.

Also apparent from the survey was that The Great Resignation was still well underway. For 37% of respondents, The Great Resignation made them question their employers, and 34% were actively looking for a new job, with money as their main motivator. However, even more—nearly two-thirds—reported they regretted their decision after they did change jobs.

Providing Options and Anticipating Needs

The report concluded that in a post-pandemic work environment, employees are going to continue to want choices about where and how they work. In order to retain workers, employers will need to consider ways to give them options, while also being proactive in their response to their employees’ mental wellbeing.

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