Cost of living? Prepare for the labor cost crisis • The Registry

By now we must all have experienced firsthand the worsening of the cost of living crisis. But according to new research, there is also a labor cost crisis as employers insist on returning staff to the office.

In its Digital Etiquette: Reinventing Work Report, Adaptavis, a digital transformation specialist, questioned nearly 3,500 professionals from the US, UK, Australia and Canada about their views on hybrid vs office work, productivity, collaboration and isolation, tools for communication, health and wellbeing and the future of work.

Adaptavis found that for the more than 1,200 British employees surveyed, inflation and shocking cost-of-living increases have turned into a new ‘labor cost’ crisis affecting not only the workplace but also the way in which they work.

Although the cost of working from home is rising with energy bills turning their stomachs, 44% of UK respondents said they were concerned about the additional costs of office work if they returned full time.

Of the 38% who said they were anxious to get back to the office, 35% said the anxiety was due to commuting. Everyone has felt the pang of stupidity in commuting to work in order to afford to travel to work and, according to the Office of National Statistics, the annual increase in transport in the UK was 15.1% in July 2022.

As a result, 29% say they would like to see commute reimbursement and carrot-free parking that would take them back to the office full-time.

“The transformation of work in recent years has been long-lasting, but it will also continue to evolve,” said John Turley, Adaptavis’ organizational transformation manager.

“Just as employees have gotten used to questioning the level of flexibility and freedom their organization offers, they are now understandably considering the costs associated with returning to the office, working from home, or a combination of the two.

“Regardless of whether these costs are mental, emotional or financial, employees and employers will need to find a new balance between business as usual and the way people want to work now, one that supports well-being and creates value. for the customers”.

Meanwhile, the flexibility of working from home has allowed respondents to supplement their income with freelance gigs or additional hours as the recession looms, opportunities they believe will be stripped of mandatory office hours. About 28% plan to take on additional work and 16% have already done so, with 51% citing an income increase of £ 6,000- £ 12,000 per year (from $ 6,800 to $ 13,600). It is clear why some would not want to lose it.

The downside to these initiatives is that they could cause burnout. Adaptavis said 31% of UK employees are so overwhelmed with work that they don’t have time to talk to colleagues, while 89% said in-person communication with colleagues is critical or important. This could contribute to loneliness or isolation, although more than half of professionals do not have access to their employer’s mental health resources.

Psychotherapist Petra Velzeboer commented: “We often find that resources for mental health and well-being exist within organizations, but communication about them is poor and awareness is low.

“An effective employee assistance program and communication strategy are essential to ensure companies and employees have the right tools, but that’s only half the solution. We need to proactively fight loneliness by creating a culture of connected, mental health and well-being at the forefront. Companies must prioritize mental health before people start struggling, not after. “

The great restoration

For better or for worse, with 43% of respondents in hybrid or remote locations, this flexibility could end when employers start enforcing a return to the office. Whether driven by recession, the need for control or increased productivity, nearly three-quarters of UK workers said returning to the office would nullify all, some and the most important freedoms in the workplace.

This prompted more than a third to look for a new job elsewhere. However, 66% of those who stepped down as part of the pandemic-inspired “Grand Resignation” said they repent or sometimes regret the decision, so proceed with caution.

Among the tech companies that bring workers back to headquarters are BT, Apple and Google, all of which have imposed a “3 together, 2 everywhere” model (as BT puts it): three days in an office and two remotely.

On the other hand, Red Hat has no qualms with staff working remotely for the foreseeable future, Amazon said no difficult return to office is expected, Dell predicted that 60% of staff would be absent after the pandemic, and Salesforce believes that “out of office will never work.”

At the most disturbing end, Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri said that “maybe five days is too much time for the family. A day or two is a good amount,” explaining why the staff had to return.

Time for a four day week?

Adaptavis also asked professionals for their opinion on the future of the occupation. While 63% said they worked the same hours as before the pandemic, over 62% wanted to see the end of the 40-hour work week, with 49% aiming for a four-day schedule.

Nearly a quarter of respondents said their employer already offers four days. This follows a huge UK pilot of program change for 3,000 workers in dozens of companies between June and December.

Halfway through the pilot, 88% of responding companies said the four-day week is working well for their business; 46% said business productivity remained the same; and 86% said they were “extremely likely” to stick to the four-day week policy.

Tool fatigue

The survey also looked at communication and productivity tools, with Brits often experiencing “tool fatigue”. This was felt most acutely by asynchronous workers, those on a team that doesn’t require all members to be online at the same time, who had tool fatigue rates twice that of synchronous workers.

Just over half of employees said they wasted time due to the change in business, and 41% complained that their organization had too many tools doing the same thing.

Email remains the most used communication method for work with 31 percent, followed by in-person conversations (17 percent), then collaboration tools like Slack as the primary communication method (12 percent). However, those who worked asynchronously in larger companies with more than 250 employees were more likely to use such tools, with Microsoft Teams (75%) and Zoom (53%) considered essential for collaboration. ®