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What's the future of the workplace

Get back. Get back to where you once belonged?

At the height of the Omicron surge in Auckland, I got the chance to speak with one of our contractors – let’s call him ‘Steve’. We were delivering Covid survival packs and checking in our contractor team. And when Steve opened the door, I knew he needed to talk.

Eight months earlier, we’d placed Steve at a large corporate. It doesn’t matter which one. But as it turned out, in all this time, Steve still hadn’t met his team in person. We spoke for about half an hour, and he was struggling.

It wasn’t because he was WFH with two under-5s; it was loneliness. His day to day was missing the adult connection. When was he going to be able to get into the office?

And so this is the big question – what is the future of remote working? Are we Zoom Doomed, or will we be back in the office as if nothing’s changed?

This morning I was sitting in a SEEK discussion panel, and the question came up again. What’s the best approach, WFH, back in the office or Hybrid?

Over the pandemic, Kiwis have made a lot of sacrifices to stay productive despite working remotely.

While [some] employers would like to see their people back in the office five days a week, after two years of making WFH ‘work’, it will be a difficult pill to swallow for many employees.

As a recruiter, I’d also caution about swinging the other way entirely. Note Steve above.

The sweet spot is probably somewhere in between – and here’s why:

No matter your personality type, humans have a fundamental need to connect. It allows us to share problems, grow, create and be inspired.
When we don’t have this connection, we start looking for it elsewhere, whether in our personal lives or our work lives.

A study in December 2021 by AUT Business School Professor Jarrod Haar shows that 1 in 3 New Zealanders were ‘high risk for burnout’. The lack of human connection is an enormous contributor.

There is no magic bullet here. Each business will have to find its equilibrium.

But if you want to keep people in this candidate short market, my recommendation would be to make sure you balance the flexibility people have found with remote working, while also creating opportunities for them to connect.

Otherwise, they might start looking elsewhere.
Consult Recruitment (incorporating Halo Consulting) is a leading recruitment agency specialising in Accounting & Finance, Sales, Marketing, HR, IT & Digital recruitment. Learn more here.

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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