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AbstractThe sudden explosion of COVID-19 in early 2020 turned life upside down almost overnight. Lockdowns induced forced isolation, and employees transformed into either remote workers or essential, front-line workers at high risk of exposure to the coronavirus. As offices have reopened, remote work has been heralded as one positive outcome of the pandemic and as a solution to some of the ailments of Americans’ fast-paced lifestyles. While technologies such as videoconferencing and instant messaging have supported productivity, the reduction in unscheduled social interactions has the potential to harm employee well-being and engagement. While remote work can improve job satisfaction, it can also contribute to feelings of isolation, which in turn can lead to more serious conditions. Employees who are chronically lonely in the workplace receive poorer supervisor ratings of their job performance and have weaker feelings of emotional commitment to their employer. Ironically, although these employees crave social interaction, they also tend to distance themselves from co- workers, potentially undercutting workgroup collaboration. In addition, they miss an average of 15 more days of work per year than their nonlonely co-workers. Given these potential implications for the workplace, SHRM Research sought to explore the prevalence of employee loneliness and the importance of social interactions from the perspectives of both HR professionals and U.S. workers. There is a common perception of a permanent restructuring of the workplace in the wake of the pandemic. Findings from SHRM’s current study bear out these reports. Both HR professionals and U.S. workers reported similar degrees of change between December 2019 and December 2022. Whereas around 9 in 10 workplaces were almost entirely in-person before the pandemic, some 7 in 10 are now. Paralleling this decline are increases in the percentage of employers whose workers are permanently hybrid or remote. These shifts have potential implications for the nature of interactions among co-workers. A recent Morning Consult report suggested other implications as well. While 63% of workers in that study currently work in person, only 46% agreed this is their preferred work location, suggesting a sizable percentage of onsite workers want more work flexibility than their employers provide. Employees’ biggest reasons for preferring onsite work were being more productive in the office and maintaining greater separation between their work and personal lives.
DescriptionSociety of HR Management
Rights/TermsAttribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International
Identifier to cite or link to this itemhttp://hdl.handle.net/10713/20783
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International