CBD businesses worried about Kiwis' new love of working from home

While working from home was forced on many Kiwis during the COVID-19 lockdown, a new study by Otago University shows many want to keep it that way.

Almost 90 percent of workers said they wanted to keep their new work environment but some businesses are concerned about the effects it will have on the New Zealand economy.

Dr Paula O'Kane from Otago Business School says people have found there are both positives and negatives in the change of workplace.

"They really enjoyed the flexibility, the lack of commute was absolutely amazing for people," she says.

"So they made more time in their day. But then they struggled with switching off."

Mortgage Advisor Ryan Hannagan says he has enjoyed his new working environment.

"Yeah look I've actually found it really enjoyable. I've found that it's given me a bit more freedom with the family as well to spend time with the kids."

Three-quarters of people surveyed said they felt just as productive working remotely, without the distractions of the office.

Public transport capacity is still limited due to social distancing, daily journeys in Auckland less than half the usual number.

Despite that, traffic on the motorways is still 70 percent of normal in Auckland and Wellington.

But innercity shops, cafes, and bars aren't keen on 'working from home' becoming permanent, with business slow at alert level 2.

"The offices aren't back yet, much less the foot traffic around. Just generally I think the office crew and people just are not coming into the CBD at the moment," says Patrick O'Leary from The Occidental Belgian Beer Huis.

Split shifts and shorter weeks are a possible compromise with just one in five people wanting to work from home full time.

O'Kane says Kiwis are looking for balance.

"So that's why we'd really like organisations to have conversations with people, and not to go for a one-size-fits-all model."

Flexibility seems to be the key to ensuring the new normal works well for everybody.