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RingCentral survey reveals how Aussie workers feel about hybrid and remote working

By Catherine Knowles, Tue 7 Dec 2021

Australian workers are anxious about a possible return to the office, while business leaders and decision makers called to offer wide scale support for hybrid and remote working.

This is according to new research study by RingCentral, that found that while the majority of Australian workers (81%) believe that the freedom to work from anywhere is now the norm for all relevant industries, 63% anticipate that in 2022 they will be returning back to the office to work.

The survey also revealed considerable anxiety about a possible return to the office. More than half of Australians (56%) have not met their colleagues in-person due to COVID-19 and, of this group, 60% are anxious about meeting their co-workers for the first time in-person.

This is likely driven by fears of potential exposure to COVID-19, with 78% of the Australian workforce believing that those that return to in-person workplace models should be vaccinated.

As a consequence, more than half (65%) of full-time Australian workers claim that Delta and other variants have made them more likely to consider other employers that allow remote work.

While Australian workers have some anxiety about returning to the office, our survey also found that business decision-makers have experienced first-hand the benefits of working from anywhere, so they are unlikely to change their decision about supporting a hybrid working model.

The survey found that 73% of business decision-makers believe that business travel for conferences or trade shows will now be unnecessary.

Also, a large majority of them (83%) claim that there is increased freedom to work from anywhere.

They are also almost two times more likely than non-business decision-makers to believe both that workplace collaboration tools can make them feel professionally connected, and also that video facilitates better personal relationships with co-workers.

This is evidenced by how enthusiastically business decision-makers have embraced remote collaboration: 77% believe they can build personal relationships with co-workers without ever physically meeting them, 76% feel that connecting online through voice or video calls is as good as in-person for work-related tasks, and 74% that connecting online through voice or video calls is as good as in-person for building personal relationships with co-workers.

RingCentral regional vice president of sales Peter Hughes says, “A lot has already been discussed about 'the great resignation' both here in Australia and also internationally, but I’m not sure we will see it playing out here in any significant way - provided organisations continue to follow their stated commitment to permanent hybrid and flexible work arrangements.”

RingCentral conducted this survey in collaboration with Ipsos, a multinational market research and consulting firm, and questioned 9,000 workers in five countries, including 2,000 respondents in Australia.

The survey was conducted with a desire to understand the impact of the pandemic on the workforce across various elements including, but not limited to, isolation, loneliness, a desire to connect, meeting new colleagues, confidence in return to office plans, and others.

The results also bring to light some concerns on the impact of remote work on individual workers, and the importance organisations need to place on employee inclusivity and engagement programs.

Some highlights include the following.

Isolation: 52% of Australian full-time workers who worked in a hybrid or remote setup during COVID-19 felt more isolated or lonely at work.

Impact of loneliness on remote and hybrid workers: of Australian full-time workers who feel isolated or lonely due to remote work, 38% say that it has had an impact on their overall mental health, 35% that it has had an impact on how much enthusiasm they have for their job, and 31% on the connections with their co-workers.

Desire to connect more: 42% of Australian workers say that social distancing through COVID-19 has made them want to connect more with their work colleagues (for 50% there is no change and just 8% say they want to connect less).

Conversely, the survey also found that 1-in-3 Australian full-time workers are happier with their job since the pandemic began, and more than two-thirds (69%) say working hybrid or remotely during COVID-19 made them more empathetic towards people. Parents who work full-time (43%) are nearly twice as likely as their non-parent counterparts (23%) to be happier with their jobs now.

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