This week’s blog comes from a recent report by GWI Research, who’ve delivered leading consumer insights to household-name businesses since 2009 and whose reports are well worth subscribing to – you can do that here.

As new, more infectious variants of coronavirus continue to spread around the world, “stay at home” orders and remote working remain a reality for many.

So are employees still as enthusiastic as they were six months ago about leaving the office for good?


GWI’s research, carried out in December across eight countries, shows that feelings have definitely shifted, especially among certain groups of professionals, with the realisation that although working from the comfort of home can be rewarding, the office represents pre-pandemic normality.

The report sheds light on what workers think an ideal home/office balance could look like, and how businesses can support them accordingly.

Here are four things to keep in mind when designing back-to-office strategies if and when a new normal establishes itself.

  1. Maintaining a hybrid workforce is the way forward.Only 12% across the eight countries surveyed don’t want to go back to the office at all.

  2. Parents would like to keep teleworking, but they’ll need more support.Almost half of all parents outside China would like to mostly or fully work from home once the pandemic is over, while an additional 21% would choose a 50/50 balance.

  3. WFH can reduce productivity in the long run.Teleworking has so far proved effective in achieving these goals, with 77% of those working from home rating their company’s productivity as good or excellent, compared to 74% of those working in the office. Maintaining productivity is a fine balance though, and evidence suggests it has started to fall as the pandemic goes on; our data from December supports this.

  4. Social connection and productivity are closely intertwined.Social isolation is the biggest factor driving down productivity, together with a lack of dedicated workspace.

With this in mind, businesses need to remember that:

  • Designing a healthy home/office work mix will likely deliver lasting benefits in the new normal.
  • Flexible working needs to go hand in hand with remote working, especially when it comes to supporting working parents.
  • Maintaining productivity is seen more as a challenge than a benefit of teleworking, with social isolation being the biggest factor dampening it at the moment.
  • Fostering a culture of togetherness and social interactions isn’t a nice-to-have anymore, it’s a must-have for boosting productivity.

We highly recommend that all business owners, large and small, read the full report here.