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Survey: Remote Work Starting to Affect Productivity

A notable number of consumers dislike working from home: 53% “very much want to return” to the office, and 40% would job hunt if their company went completely virtual. For many, the loss of daily interactions lowered job satisfaction and led to work-from-home fatigue.

NEW YORK – A new survey finds that remote work is starting to affect productivity. Forty percent of nearly 50 leaders of businesses nationwide said they’ve noticed a decrease in productivity from their remote staff, according to a new survey from Vocon, an architect and design firm. At the beginning of the pandemic in April, 56% of employers that Vocon surveyed rated productivity as “excellent” from remote workers.

Workers may be starting to feel like they’re missing out by not being able to connect with colleagues face to face. They’re also expressing challenges of setting boundaries at home with work. Employees who don’t have a dedicated home office have the greatest challenges.

A separate survey of consumers this week showed that 53% “very much want to return” to the office. What’s more, 40% of respondents said they would look for another job if their employer went entirely virtual, according to the Back to Normal Barometer from research company Engagious.

“Companies were having a really hard time keeping their culture together and a really, really difficult time onboarding employees,” Megan Spinos, director of strategy for Vocon, told the Commercial Observer. “The workplace was really a critical place for them.”

The majority of company leaders surveyed by Vocon said they still plan to have a physical space for their employees, and they plan to have their workers return to the office likely by the first quarter of next year. Vocon’s survey reflects the heads of firms that oversee 443,895 workers nationwide in industries such as real estate, technology, advertising, finance and more.

Some companies are even expanding their physical office footprints at a time when many believed they’d shrink. Amazon recently purchased a 630,000-square-foot building in Manhattan and leased 2 million square feet in two developments in Bellevue, Wash., to expand its physical presence and add more employees. Facebook recently signed a deal to lease 730,000 square feet of office space in a former post office at Penn Station in New York.

“Tech companies still believe in physical spaces,” Tom Vecchione, a principal at Vocon, told the Commercial Observer. “There’s a new awareness about wanting to be in a building working together.”

Younger workers may be the most eager to return to work. About 70% of Generation Z and 69% of millennials reported challenges with working from home, according to studies of more than 50,000 global respondents analyzed by Cushman & Wakefield. Young professionals struggle to find a space to work, and they also may feel they’re missing out on advancement opportunities by working from home.

Source: “Productivity Drops as Work From Home Fatigue Sets In, Survey of Employers Finds,” Commercial Observer (Sept. 16, 2020)

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