WFH fatigue grows, workers looking to return to offices – survey

Published July 22, 2021, 9:00 AM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Employees want more balance in their working patterns, with the office re-emerging as the primary place of work post-pandemic, as home-working fatigue grows and productivity levels decline, according to a research survey.

The latest Worker Preference Barometer research survey by real estate management and consultancy firm JLL showed that 1,500 respondents across Asia Pacific revealed that appetite for working in the office post-pandemic has grown to three days a week, compared to only two days in a similar survey JLL conducted last year.

The data indicates that 68 percent of respondents wish to work in a hybrid model, having the flexibility to switch between the office, home and third-party location versus 74 percent in October 2020.  Six out of 10 believe that they are more productive in the office than at home compared to 54 percent a year ago.  

“What we’re observing is that people crave the social interaction and professional work environment that the office provides. One in two employees miss the face-to-face collaboration with colleagues, as well as access to efficient infrastructure, including good internet connectivity, ergonomic workstations and collaboration areas,” said Anthony Couse, CEO, JLL Asia Pacific. 

He adds: “We’re also seeing that working from home in the long-run makes people feel stuck in an endless day of virtual meetings and work, without clear boundaries which enable them to disconnect properly. This has taken a social and mental toll for some.” 

JLL’s research shows that more than half of respondents feel overwhelmed by a huge mental load and are worried about their job security, while majority of young parents (60%) have expressed that they have many personal responsibilities to cope with and are becoming disenchanted with work.

“Companies have to pay closer attention to the health and well-being of their employees now more than ever. With 90% of the workforce wanting more flexibility in choosing where and when to work, work-life balance is now being ranked as the top priority in the research, ahead of salary, and this should be considered by employers if they want to attract and retain talent,” added Couse. 

According to the survey, 92 percent of employees who are highly satisfied with their office environment strongly miss their offices. However, office satisfaction has also dropped significantly as employees now have renewed expectations of their office environment.

Kamya Miglani, Director, Work Dynamics Research, JLL Asia Pacific added: “Apart from work-life balance and salary, the pandemic has driven people to focus on what matters most in their work lives – a desire for spaces that create a strong sense of community and culture.”

The survey reveals that employees are now looking at health and wellness programmes, sustainability, learning and development, and diversity and inclusion initiatives as some of the top factors that will attract them to join or stay with an employer.  “As we start to navigate out of the pandemic, companies have an opportunity to leverage their physical office spaces to become more human-centric in supporting the employees’ diverse, evolving needs and working styles,” said Miglani. 

 
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