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Workplace changes in 2022: Benefits and issues

Workplaces around the globe have changed significantly since 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic still affects everyday life in 2022, most businesses have adopted various solutions, including working from home arrangements, flexible working, and/or a hybrid work strategy to support their employees.

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But amid the solutions that benefit employees, business leaders and HR professionals will need to address specific issues pertaining to current working arrangements as offices reopen and the business world regains momentum. Read on as this Pacific Prime article looks back at how work arrangements have changed and what to expect in 2022.

Looking back on how work arrangements have changed since the COVID-19 pandemic

In early 2020, most governments and businesses began reviewing ways to deal with the disruption and prevent hospitalization. And ultimately loss of life. Eventually, lockdowns and restrictions were announced, and employees were instructed to work from home as a way of slowing the spread of COVID-19 across the public domain and providing reassurance to employees. However, this sudden transition gave rise to numerous challenges for businesses to deal with at first, such as:

  • Offering the right level of support to facilitate employees in their move from an office/workplace environment to a home/remote setting;
  • Investing in the right tools, software, and technology to allow employees to work productively, whatever their role; and
  • Adjusting and reviewing employee benefits to meet their employees’ ongoing needs and requirements.

Fast forward to 2022, and we are still dealing with ongoing cases, as well as new variants such as the Omicron strain. Luckily, in the time that’s passed, our knowledge of the disease has significantly broadened. And public safety has improved many folds. That said, employees have adapted well to working from home while reaping numerous benefits and remaining as productive as ever. But as things improve, employers will look towards reopening offices. A decision which may concern many employees who prefer their current working from home arrangements.

Working from home or remote working offer many benefits, but issues remain

While being at home has helped certain groups of workers to flourish and discover the silver lining in their lives, some felt they were doing more work than they would be if they were working from the office, while others saw a lack of involvement from their managers. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits and issues of working from home from companies around the globe.

Three reasons to work from home

“77% of remote workers say they’re more productive when they’re working from home.” – CoSo Cloud

1. Getting more done at home than in the workplace

Those who believe that telecommuting equals low productivity will be surprised to hear that 77% of workers get more done when they work from home, according to CoSo Cloud. This is particularly interesting given how employers generally insist on having employees in the workplace. Employers argue that an office or workplace environment promotes culture and breeds collaboration. Of course, this varies from industry to industry. On the other hand, employees enjoy a better work-balance, as indicated next.

 “Better work-life balance is the main reason why people choose to work remotely.” – Owl Labs

2. Work-life balance, hobbies, and family come first

According to Owl Labs, workers appreciate the time spent with their loved ones, enjoying hobbies, or relaxing while doing their work instead of spending time stuck in traffic or standing in an overcrowded train. This means employees have better control over their daily schedule and can be considered the biggest perk of working remotely or from home.

“Telecommuting reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount of 600,000 cars.” – State of Telecommuting

3. Saving the environment, saving the planet

If 3.9 million people work from home at least half-time, that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by an amount of 600,000 cars, according to the State of Telecommuting. Employees generally feel that working from home is a great way to help protect the environment for future generations to come. More so, employees who commute from far will appreciate the savings made from not traveling to the workplace. Their savings can be invested in other areas, such as top-up health insurance, long-term savings, or making debt payments.

Further reading: Top 5 perks for home-based workers

Three cons/challenges of working from home

“The three biggest challenges associated with remote work are unplugging after work (22%), loneliness (19%) and communication (17%).” – Buffer

1. Difficulty managing and coping

Surprisingly, working at home isn’t all roses. According to Buffer, the biggest challenge was to stop working once working hours were over. This was followed by loneliness and a lack of communication and collaboration. Together, they represent a cocktail of concerns that can affect productivity in the short term and employees’ overall health and well-being in the long term. Employers can help tackle these issues by introducing Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). These programs are designed to assist employees and provide valuable resources to address employees’ issues. However, such challenges fuel the notion of reintroducing employees back to the office, at least on a hybrid work model.

Further reading: Employee assistance programs: How do I select the best one?

“54% of IT professionals consider remote workers to pose a greater security risk than traditional workers.” – OpenVPN

2. Lack of privacy

Although IT solutions like security software and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are available to all workers, there is a higher chance of a cyber attack with those working at home or remotely compared to workers who are based in the workplace. To mitigate the risks, IT seniors should provide resources and steps on maintaining security and educate workers on the best internet practices and more. Again, employers may encourage employees to return to the office to reduce risks or loss of valuable equipment.

“Remote employees are 16% less likely to agree that their manager involves them in the goal-setting process.” – Gallup

3. Feeling disconnected

The statistic by Gallup is quite staggering as it means over 84% of remote workers feel somewhat disconnected from their manager and are not included in any goal-setting process. This could be due to a lack of communication or leadership, which can impact morale and employee experience. To avoid misunderstandings, managers may want to review their practices and establish frequent connections with their colleagues. Instead, employees may be asked to return to the office where meetings and activities can resolve those gaps in connection and improve relationships.

The 3 big workplace changes to expect in 2022

Having reviewed the pros and cons of working from home, let’s go over 3 big workplace changes to expect this year.

1. Hybrid work model becomes the preferred option as offices reopen

As offices begin to reopen, it’s clear that employers will need to put together a plan that works for everyone. Asking employees to return to the office without considering the needs of employees or providing a valid reason can make plans to return to the office unsuccessful and impact employee experience. However, one solution for employees and employers would be introducing a hybrid work strategy or model.

A hybrid work model bridges both physical and virtual communication. While connecting employers and employees no matter where they are located. And the model will likely become the dominant option that employers would instead adopt. This model would also allow employees to work from home at least two or three days a week.

Additionally, since employees have shown that they can work from home and proven they can be equally productive, if not more. It’s a no-brainer to allow employees the choice of still working from home.

Further reading: 5 steps for building a hybrid work strategy for your company

2. Monitoring tools could unleash a legal backlash by employees

For over two years, businesses have had time to adjust to working from home practices and by now have invested in technology to help facilitate communication and monitoring. However, employers may want to review their approaches and choices of what to monitor, as it could lead to employee backlash or legal action.

Since the pandemic, there has been a rise in employee monitoring via tools and software, seriously undermining trust and values. Rules surrounding employee monitoring vary from country to country, and employers generally need a good reason to do so.

Employee privacy concerns will be top of mind in 2022. Businesses will have to develop better ways to check in with employees. Employers could train managers to communicate and work with colleagues better too. That said, building trust and autonomy are essential to improving employee experience.

3. Employee turnover to prompt improved employee support and experience

“63% of workers say their top priority in a new job is work-life balance, followed by colleagues and camaraderie (40%) and culture (60%).” – LinkedIn

The so-called “Great Resignation” – a phenomenon that describes record numbers of people leaving their jobs during and after the pandemic ends, will continue in 2022. Employee turnover will be higher now than in 2021, as restrictions slowly ease and talented individuals look further afield to grow their careers with employers who care for their needs and wellbeing while promoting a healthy culture.

7 ways to reduce employee turnover in 2022

  1. Sending out surveys and questionnaires to employees to provide feedback on any issues/concerns and provide immediate solutions to address them.
  2. Setting clear guidelines and training managers to improve internal communication with employees.
  3. Exploring flexible benefits to suit the needs of employees, especially those of diverse workforces. It will also benefit businesses and their bottom line.
  4. Investing in learning and development programs allows employees to develop their careers without leaving the business. This approach is highly encouraged as it shows that the business cares and wants employees to improve continually.
  5. Promoting company culture, where employees feel heard, valued, and comfortable. This action is a must as job seekers are looking beyond job titles and monetary compensation.
  6. Offering mental health benefits and having those options available for employees to access quickly. This offering is essential for employees who are working from home. Mental health benefits can also help those suffering from depression and anxiety.
  7. Reviewing existing employee benefits, and seeking advice from specialists or brokers.

Further reading:

Need further advice on retaining talent in 2022?

With over 20 years of experience offering employee benefits and company insurance advice to multinationals and SMEs, Pacific Prime’s employee benefits experts can help review and discuss your talent retention needs for 2022 and beyond.

Get in touch with us for an impartial insurance review, or check out our corporate resources to stay up-to-date on the fascinating world of employee benefits.

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Jimmy is a content writer who helps simplify insurance for readers interested in international private medical insurance. He is on a mission in Thailand to support locals, expatriates, and businesses by bring the latest news and updates to his Pacific Prime blog articles.

His expert view and wealth of knowledge on insurance can also be found in his blogs for China, Dubai, Hong Kong, and Singapore.