Study: Employees miss social interaction and the instant share of ideas during work-from-home

Aurel Constantin 22/05/2020 | 13:06

Remote work is challenging for most Romanians who have worked from home in the current epidemiological context. Only 13 percent of them say they have a dedicated workspace at home, half compared to employees in Central and Eastern European (CEE), according to a study conducted by Colliers International among countries in the region, including Romania. In this context, most feel isolated and miss meetings with colleagues, even if work from home has meant a better work-life balance for some.

In absence of an office or a dedicated workspace at home, 45 percent of Romanians say that the living room is the main area where they carry out their work activities, as is the case for half of respondents from Central and Eastern Europe. As a result, 40 percent of respondents say that they have difficulties working remote and feel that sometimes they have low concentration because they carry out professional activities in the same space where their children carry out school or fun activities.

From home, half of the Romanian respondents to the Colliers International study admit that they feel isolated from their colleagues and only 27 percent still feel connected to the team. In contrast, in Central and Eastern European countries the situation is exactly the opposite – 62 percent of respondents say they are equally connected to the team even when working remote and only 29 percent feel isolated.

Spontaneous meetings with colleagues are what lack most to employees working remote from the region (68 percent). In Romania, however, 75 percent of respondents lack especially the physical interaction with colleagues during a working day. For 67 percent, the lack of clear separation between their professional and personal life is most challenging and only 42 percent indicate spontaneous meetings with colleagues among the aspects they lack the most when working from home.

”In the future, offices will come to life and could be reimagined as true hubs of organizational culture and identity, in which the office will act as a catalyst for meetings, social connection, organization of events and meetings, and socialization. We are working on several redevelopment projects during this period and what is certain is that more and more employers are now rethinking the structure of the office and how it will be used further by employees, which may mean redefining office space as we knew it before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out,” says Andrei Voica, Director Project Management & Workplace Consultancy, Office Advisory at Colliers International.

“Spontaneity is the basis of creativity and innovation, strengthens working relationships, which helps the company to progress. Through physical contact with other colleagues we learn from each other, sharing experience and knowledge, aspects that cannot be achieved in a digital environment. Social interaction is an essential part of how people support communities,” adds Dominique Bogdanas, Associate Workplace Solutions Services at Colliers International.

The work-life balance has improved

Even so, Romanians continued to work efficiently. Most respondents (CEE – 51 percent, Romania – 54 percent) consider that they remained equally productive during the remote working period, and for 21 percent of the respondents from CEE and 23 percent of those from Romania productivity even increased. At the same time, 44 percent of Romanian respondents say their work-life balances improved since their home became their workplace, a higher percentage than that recorded in Central and Eastern European countries.

Most companies that are now focusing on remote work have already implemented the “work from home” concept in the pre-pandemic period. Specifically, both in Central and Eastern Europe and in Romania, over 60 percent of respondents were occasionally working from home before the current context, while 31 percent of those interviewed in Romania and 23 percent in countries in the region say they didn’t work at all remotely before.

The study was conducted in March-April in 25 countries where Collies International operates, by collecting data online among nearly 4,400 respondents, including about a quarter of Central and Eastern European countries.

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