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New Study Addresses the Challenges of Readjusting to the Office Environment

New Study Addresses the Challenges of Readjusting to the Office Environment

For the past year or so, most workers around the world were forced to work remotely in order to adhere to the strict social distancing guidelines imposed by governing bodies. Now that the time has come to return to the office, many workers are finding that their expectations are a bit different than they were previously, forcing business owners to respond.

A new study released by Qualtrics titled the Future of the Workplace Study examines the perks that employees expect from the new office environment, as well as topics such as dress code and the drawbacks of remote work moving forward. This study focused its efforts on 1,000 United States full-time and part-time workers--not a particularly large sample size, but enough to get a snapshot of the landscape as we move into the post-pandemic workplace.

Concerns About Returning to the Office

According to the study, workers have several concerns about returning to work in the office environment. The top two concerns were social awkwardness from meeting coworkers and following proper social etiquette. But wait… weren’t these two things routinely done before the pandemic? While most workers are comfortable working with others in an enclosed space, the rate varies significantly by age, with about 25% of employees aged 55 or older being uncomfortable with the notion and 13% aged 18-34 being more comfortable with it.

Surprisingly, dress code also plays a significant role in employees’ returns to the workplace. People always joke about wearing pajama bottoms to work, as long as the top half of their body is presentable, but there might be more truth to this statement than you think. About a quarter of respondents suggested that “dropping leisurewear” would be a major challenge; 37% of respondents claimed that they would be dressing casually in the office moving forward, while 35% plan to dress business-casual. 

What Employees Want

With the workplace landscape having changed so dramatically over the course of a year, employers must now find new and inventive ways to make the return to the office more enticing. Similarly, employees will be looking for offices that incentivize remote or hybrid work in some capacity, or offer benefits to those who choose to work on-premises. Some of the most commonly requested benefits that employees request include offices with more natural light, access to fitness centers or gear, and outdoor spaces for collaboration. After a year of being shut in and forced to socially distance themselves, it’s no surprise that these are at the top of the list.

Other requests have to do with the way that the office is designed. If employees are working remotely at least part of the time, the question then becomes how the employer can accommodate this without wasting available space. Some businesses have experimented with the idea of assigning workplaces to employees as they are needed rather than having designated spaces for everyone. This level of flexibility allows employers to constantly assess their workplace usage and make changes as needed.

We know that the return to normalcy, whatever that looks like, will likely be fraught with many new challenges that you must address. Technology should not be one of them. Network Synergy can help your office make the adjustments needed to either return to an in-house operations infrastructure or work toward a hybrid option. To learn more, reach out to us at (203) 261-2201.

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