Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

During Covid lockdowns, office workers split into two camps: those who prefer wearing pyjama bottoms all day and those desperate to see their work pals.

In fact, almost half of office workers in US, UK, Ireland and Australia are missing the water cooler chat according to a new report by global tenant services company Equiem.

The company surveyed the more than 175,000 workers using its tenant engagement platform in more than 9000 companies during Covid lockdowns in April and May.

People might be yearning for office morale, but it would appear more people are distracted by their colleagues (28 per cent) than their household members (18 per cent). And only 10 per cent of office workers miss sitting in real-life team meetings.

Jon Lesquereux, regional head of Asia Pacific at Equiem, told The Fifth Estate that the most interesting takeaway from the research is that most people are attracted to the idea of a hybrid arrangement once lockdowns have lifted.

He said people have got used to working from home and want to keep doing it part time, with 65 per cent expecting to work from home once a week or more once restrictions are lifted. Only 28 per cent were doing so before.

Mr Lesquereux said that the pandemic has accelerated the shift that was already happening to more flexible working, which without the pandemic, would likely have happened in 10 years anyway.

While all sorts of variables inform people’s preference to in-office or remote work – from personality to commute length – Mr Lesquereux said offices that worked hard to build relationships and community with tenants are particularly “sticky and want to come back”.

He also said the pandemic is putting enhanced pressure on landlords to provide a premium level of service because the office is now competing with the lounge room and the café.

Another interesting point is that most surveyed people (82 per cent) are getting the same amount done in the office or more.

Compared to white collar workers in the US and UK, who generally felt working from home didn’t really affect their productivity, Australians reported improved productivity when remotely (46 per cent).

The bulk of people reporting higher productivity (40 per cent) said cutting commute times was the main reason they could get more done.

Lesquereux said that luring people back into the office will come down to managing the flow and movement of people. Around 58 per cent of landlords are concerned about controlling and monitoring social distancing, particularly in lifts and reception areas.

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