Office workers are struggling to stay connected and learn while working remotely during Covid-19

Aidan Gavin • 30/10/2020

Over half of employees in the EMEA region have struggled to feel connected with colleagues and their company’s culture, while 48% do not feel like they are learning as a result of working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new global study from leading real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield, in partnership with George Washington University. While formal collaboration and learning is continuing to take place, there are challenges with informal learning and mentoring which are easier to execute through social interaction in the office.


The research, “Purpose of Place: History and Future of the Office”, forms part of a wider series of studies on the post-pandemic office and presents findings related to the balance of remote and office working and the importance of work culture and workplace environments. The findings derive from Cushman & Wakefield’s own analysis of 5.5 million data points from workers all over the globe, in affiliation with the George Washington University (GWU) School of Business Center for Real Estate and Urban Analysis, and Places Platform, LLC, a place-based national real estate database firm.

Despite the successes of working from home during the pandemic, this research indicates a meaningful need for some office-based working in the future. While remote working can be beneficial for productivity and providing flexibility, it is less well-equipped to facilitate learning, innovation, and a sense of community to the same degree as the office. For instance:

  • Almost 60% of the employees monitored in the EMEA said they lack a “sense of wellbeing” while working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic as they struggle to switch off.


Aidan Gavin, Managing Director, Cushman & Wakefield Ireland comments, COVID-19 has had a profound impact on the way we work and live. While we expect to see greater flexibility in how people work after the pandemic, this study also highlights company culture, employee retention, satisfaction, and innovation as just some of the key drivers in businesses’ future workplace strategies. From this, a more hybrid approach between office-based and remote working is predicted as we move forward.”


Despina Katsikakis, Global Head of Total Workplace, comments: “COVID-19 has been a drastic and society-changing experience that has greatly impacted office workers around the globe. While we expect employers to embrace a more flexible approach to when and where people work moving forwards, it is highly unlikely that a 100% remote working policy will be adopted outside of a singular event such as a pandemic.


“The office plays a significant role at forging connections between colleagues and providing sources of inspiration and motivation. That said, key to any workplace strategy moving forwards will be balance. Businesses should strive to unlock the ‘Goldilocks’ relationship, blending an optimal level of remote and office working that aligns and complements their priorities and culture.”



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