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Working from home makes us less happy and connected with colleagues

Many people in the Netherlands have only been working at home for almost a year. Yes, corona has been in our country since March 2020, and soon everyone who could do that had to work from home. There are also plenty of people who do have to work on location, such as construction workers, cashiers or doctors, but the people who do work from home are less happy.

Since the second wave, the connection with colleagues and the happiness at work of home workers has declined. This has emerged from research by Moneypenny, Business University Nyenrode and the Open University among organizations that often work from home during the corona crisis.

Last summer they conducted a similar study. Then two in three respondents mentioned that they miss face-to-face and informal contact with colleagues. Since the second wave, that number has grown to more than three in four. The homeworkers also experience less job satisfaction.

For example, they are less absorbed in their work, they lack substantive and social depth and are generally less happy at work. For example, 21 percent say they only occasionally feel cheerful in their work. That is more than a quarter more than the 16 percent from the first round of research.

Social interaction

Deeper connections seem to be under pressure within teams in the participating organizations. For example, 41 percent of the respondents indicate that they lack the emotional support of colleagues. In the summer this was only 25 percent. Now more people also feel isolated: from 15 to 22 percent. According to Professor Pascale Peters of Nyenrode, the lack of connection could be an explanation for the declining happiness at work. “Social interaction contributes to job satisfaction. If people feel less connected with each other, this can have an impact on the experience of work. ”

How many hours we communicate digitally every day has increased further. There are also now more people who are considered large users of digital communication resources. So they spend a large part of the day working with a laptop or telephone.

Currently, 32 percent of respondents communicate online for an average of five hours or more per day; in the summer this was 21 percent. Despite this increase, many also experience a decreasing need to participate in online activities when not necessary. “This can create a vicious circle: people cut themselves off from social online contacts, which further dilutes the connection with colleagues and further reduces happiness at work,” says Susan Smulders, partner and home-working expert at Moneypenny.

Exercise, change posture and look for balance when working from home

Fortunately, employers can play a role in this. When improving their employees’ happiness at work, then. Because who knows, working from home may become the norm in the future.

Susan Smulders: “Many companies are drawing up the preliminary balance sheet and are considering whether and how working from home will continue to play a role in the future. As long as the status quo is working from home, it is advisable to also pay attention to healthy working from home. ”

According to Smulders, this means that you have to exercise enough, regularly change work posture and workplace and that you have to have a good balance between work and private life. “Also very important is a mental burden that does not go through the roof. Employers can play a driving role in this by stimulating social contacts between employees, by providing employees with professional advice and by looking for solutions if the mental complaints of individual employees persist. ”

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