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Workplace and the Future

Exploring Australian worker’s experience of their current workplace

COVID-19 and the world of work

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians were forced to move to online learning and remote working in response to the changing climate.

The changing work landscape was positively received by 90% of Australians who shifted to online in the workplace. In fact, almost four in five Australians (78%) believed working from home would be the new normal.

Australian workers’ mental health suffers amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Working from home became a reality for a quarter of Australians (27%) and was beneficial in saving time and money.

Despite these positive outcomes, genuine challenges of social isolation and the blurring of work and home boundaries became very present. Australians identified the biggest negative impacts to be less interaction with friends and family (66%) and increased fear, worry and anxiety (50%).

As a result of COVID-19, two in five Australian workers have experienced increased financial stress (44%) and mental health concerns (44%). This impact extends to 32% of Australian workers reporting a reduction in their sleep quality and 21%, a reduced capacity to work effectively.

The struggle for younger generations

Generation Z has largely been shaped by the rise of digitisation and now, the pandemic.

Despite their familiarity with, and comfort using technology, Gen Z have a strong desire for human interaction in the workplace. Previous research found that Gen Zs not only believe that a weekly check-in is optimal, more than one in two (58%) want check-ins to be entirely in person.

Considering their desire for face-to-face interaction and the shift to remote or hybrid working, it comes as no surprise that Gen Z workers have felt the biggest negative impact of the pandemic to be on their mental health (65% cf. 55% Gen Y, 40% Gen X, 33% Baby Boomers).

The workplace is the main point of social connection and community

With the increase in social isolation and household shifts, Australian workers are finding meaningful social interaction in the workplace.

Despite one in two Australians spending more time with their families (52%) and experiencing meaningful and regular social connection in their households (54%), Australian workers are more likely to experience meaningful and regular social connection in their workplace (70%).

A preference for hybrid work

When navigating new ways of working, three in five Australians (60%) have stated that they would like to engage in a hybrid mode of work. Of these, 21% say they would prefer to work from home most of the time and at the workplace some of the time, 18% would prefer to work at the workplace most of the time and at home some of the time, and 22% would prefer an equal split between working at the workplace and working from home.

The increase in workplace connectivity

Australian workers are more appreciative of their workplace and the connections they experience than they were two years ago. Compared to 2019, Australian workers are more likely to consider their colleagues as trusted friends (78% cf. 72% 2019) and experience meaningful interactions with their colleagues (88% cf. 80% 2019).

Australian workers have a desire to be looked after

One in two Australian workers would like their leader to be proactive in making them feel well taken care of (54%) and prioritise their mental health and wellbeing (51%).

Prioritising wellbeing in the workplace

In the past year, Australian workers highlighted that an increase in flexibility has resulted in an increase in productivity and achieving goals, while also increasing time spent with their family and reducing their stress levels.

As workers continue to transition back to the workplace, the importance of work wellbeing, flexibility and social connection are more important than ever.