Workers feel connected despite working from home

Most Australian office workers are comfortable with working from home, research has found.

Most Australian office workers are comfortable with working from home, research has found. Photo: AAP

As Australians around the country again bunker down amid pandemic stay-at-home orders, new data shows they are mostly comfortable with their distanced relationships with their employer and co-workers.

YouGov research commissioned by the “Facebook Workplace” platform on Wednesday found more than 70 per cent of Australian office workers felt equally or more connected to their employer than prior to the pandemic.

More than half of the 1026 respondents said their workplace was making more of an effort amid “work from home” arrangements to be inclusive.

A smaller proportion of respondents also perceived their office to be “less hierarchical” amid COVID-19 due to less formal communication channels, and believed they’d achieved a superior work-life balance.

It comes as millions of people temporarily return to work from home arrangements due to COVID-19 outbreaks and associated lockdowns across Australia, from Sydney and Brisbane to Perth and Darwin.

While many Australians returned to office-based work during periods of zero COVID-19 community transmission, many also adopted “hybrid” working arrangements in which they worked at home a few days each week.

Occupancy rates in Sydney CBD offices in October 2020 sat at 40 per cent, and were as low as seven per cent amid Victoria’s COVID-19 second wave.

Facebook Workplace Asia Pacific and Japan head Vicky Skipp said employee engagement, including online, was now indispensable for businesses.

“We learnt during the pandemic that the future belongs to connected companies. It’s never been more important for leadership teams to be human and authentic,” Ms Skipp said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is critical that leaders continue to show care for their employees and be more proactive in their outreach and communication.”

While the survey indicated most home-bound Australian workers still feel connected to their workplaces, research earlier this month indicated most Australians miss the workplace during lockdowns.

A Mainstreet Insights survey found 70 per cent of Australians made their most meaningful and regular social connections at work.

Only 15 per cent of respondents to the survey desired permanent work from home arrangements.

Some 60 per cent of Australians wanted a permanent “hybrid” work model.

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