Kiwis anxious about a return to the office, survey finds

Survey respondents are concerned about the dynamic change of returning to the office.
Survey respondents are concerned about the dynamic change of returning to the office. Photo credit: Getty

A New Zealand survey has found 70 percent of respondents are anxious about returning to the office and have grown more comfortable at home.

The survey, which was released on Wednesday by Auckland company frog recruitment, asked 1300 employers and employees about their experiences working from home and how the COVID-19 pandemic might change the way they work in the future. 

It comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that most businesses in New Zealand would be able to reopen under alert level 2, which could happen as soon as next Tuesday.

Business Relationship Director Jane Kennelly says during the lockdown Kiwis have grown comfortable working from home.

"For many businesses, employees and employers have been working from home during the lockdown and in that time have established a 'new normal' in the way they work. 

"Zoom meetings are plentiful and 'casual Friday' has extended to the other days of the working week."

She told RNZ's Morning Report New Zealanders have noticed the difference of having only a 30-second commute and other perks working from home entails.

"These new habits are being formed and, in fact, a high number of respondents are really enjoying being at home and in their home environment."

Kennelly says while people miss the human interaction of working in an office, they aren't sure what to expect when they return, which is making them anxious.

"Our new ways of working have impacted work relationships, company cultures and teams," she said in a press release.

"Many we have talked with have raised the question: 'What if I don't like the way I used to work anymore? What if I do not like the new team dynamic and would rather keep working from home?'"

Frog Recruitment is encouraging employers to have one-on-one conversations with employees to figure out ways to make the transition easier.

"Don't take this step lightly... Employees don't want feedback; they want to know you care.

"There are many benefits of working in a shared environment. Being part of a broader group to bounce ideas off, achieving success as a team and enjoying the natural relationship building, friendship and socialisation that comes with working together are vital to a successful workplace. 

"There are many positive benefits to working alongside others in an office and employers need to convey these to their employees."

But Kennelly says the pandemic has also created a great opportunity for businesses to consider flexible work arrangements.

"Uniting against COVID-19 has opened the window to innovation and creativity among Kiwi businesses. Reinventing the way of work, employers have been given a golden opportunity to review and make changes - which could include everything from digital rosters, dress code, job descriptions and team composition."