Giant global companies such as Twitter and Facebook were some of the first early-adopters to allowing their employees to work-from-home, arguably sparking a mass shift in corporations around the world. Many people found themselves with newfound freedom and it was found to reduce stress levels that had been pushed to their limits when the pandemic began back in May. 

For many employers and employees alike, a permanent solution seemed to be found, with no notable effect on productivity, what could the problem be?

Unfortunately for the folks who have grown accustomed to working in a hoody and shorts, working from home doesn’t appear to be sustainable according to CNN Business Perspectives’ JT McCormick who as early as May of this year said: “Remote workplaces a strain on the relationships among teammates by eliminating the spontaneous social interactions that are necessary for productive teamwork. Casual exchanges in the break room or hallways lay the foundation for trust by creating connection outside of the work itself.” 

The effect that seemingly meaningless daily interactions has on overall morale, on a general level, is not worth it, it seems. The smile and nod that you do when you pass a colleague on the stairs, the pints after work on a Friday afternoon, the chatter around the water cooler at lunchtime, they’re all crucial elements to sustaining a psychologically healthy workforce. There are, of course, outliers who can happily work remotely without physical interactions, and remain unaffected, but for the majority of us, we need that interaction to operate effectively.

A study by Harvard Business Review and Humanyze, an analytics software provider, showed that remote workers communicated nearly 80% less about their assignments than team members who worked in the same office did. In 17% of projects, they didn’t communicate at all.

With communication being such a vital element to synergy in modern-day businesses, such a drastic drop in engagement is too much of a risk for a permanent remote working policy. The volume of dynamic problem-solving scenarios generally falls off a cliff when people aren’t in each other’s physical vicinity, regardless of what early surveys said, a long-term solution should include face-to-face interactions.

So what does the future look like?

An ultimate optimal solution is unlikely to be found for all businesses, but a more dynamic solution should be agreed on an employee-by-employee basis. We are all different, and some of us need more social interaction than others to be firing on all cylinders. Employers should listen to their people, speak openly about a protocol agreement that can be tailored to stimulate productivity where needed.

Giant global companies such as Twitter and Facebook were some of the first early-adopters to allowing their employees to work-from-home, arguably sparking a mass shift in corporations around the world. Many people found themselves with newfound freedom and it was found to reduce stress levels that had been pushed to their limits when the pandemic began back in May. 

For many employers and employees alike, a permanent solution seemed to be found, with no notable effect on productivity, what could the problem be?

Unfortunately for the folks who have grown accustomed to working in a hoody and shorts, working from home doesn’t appear to be sustainable according to CNN Business Perspectives’ JT McCormick who as early as May of this year said: “Remote workplaces a strain on the relationships among teammates by eliminating the spontaneous social interactions that are necessary for productive teamwork. Casual exchanges in the break room or hallways lay the foundation for trust by creating connection outside of the work itself.” 

The effect that seemingly meaningless daily interactions has on overall morale, on a general level, is not worth it, it seems. The smile and nod that you do when you pass a colleague on the stairs, the pints after work on a Friday afternoon, the chatter around the water cooler at lunchtime, they’re all crucial elements to sustaining a psychologically healthy workforce. There are, of course, outliers who can happily work remotely without physical interactions, and remain unaffected, but for the majority of us, we need that interaction to operate effectively.

A study by Harvard Business Review and Humanyze, an analytics software provider, showed that remote workers communicated nearly 80% less about their assignments than team members who worked in the same office did. In 17% of projects, they didn’t communicate at all.

With communication being such a vital element to synergy in modern-day businesses, such a drastic drop in engagement is too much of a risk for a permanent remote working policy. The volume of dynamic problem-solving scenarios generally falls off a cliff when people aren’t in each other’s physical vicinity, regardless of what early surveys said, a long-term solution should include face-to-face interactions.

So what does the future look like?

An ultimate optimal solution is unlikely to be found for all businesses, but a more dynamic solution should be agreed on an employee-by-employee basis. We are all different, and some of us need more social interaction than others to be firing on all cylinders. Employers should listen to their people, speak openly about a protocol agreement that can be tailored to stimulate productivity where needed.

The future itself is about as lucid as the stock market, we will never be able to predict the short-term, but what we do know is that in the long-term, the psychological health of staff should be the number one priority above all else. If businesses can integrate during such a difficult time, the future can only be bright. Just bear in mind, stress levels are high, people are on edge, cut them some slack, be kind, and give each other the benefit of the doubt. 

The future itself is about as lucid as the stock market, we will never be able to predict the short-term, but what we do know is that in the long-term, the psychological health of staff should be the number one priority above all else. If businesses can integrate during such a difficult time, the future can only be bright. Just bear in mind, stress levels are high, people are on edge, cut them some slack, be kind, and give each other the benefit of the doubt.