A more relaxed environment, opportunities to chat more, getting to know colleagues’ families and pets all contribute
Of a thousand individuals surveyed, 46% of respondents using Zoom have admitted to feeling closer to their colleagues now, than when they were in the office. Sixteen percent of these individuals cited the fact that the atmosphere has become far more relaxed while working from home, allowing them to get to know their colleagues better. This is according to a nationwide survey commissioned by Eskenzi PR, a Queen’s award-winning Tech PR agency and conducted by Censuswide.
Other reasons cited for this positive change in closeness include: chatting more (11%), getting to know their colleagues’ families and pets (11%), seeing colleagues in their home setting (9%) as well as spending more time with them (6%). A further 21% of respondents believed their closeness with colleagues had not changed at all. Therefore, appearing to prove that maintaining company culture is not necessarily destined to fail under a remote working model. In this way, offering a more optimistic outlook compared to suggestions of eroding trust among colleagues.
Nonetheless, businesses and their human resource teams must account for the remaining third of the population who have felt a negative impact in their professional relationships: A sentiment more evident amongst women than men, with 42% admitting to feeling less close with colleagues than 24% of men. For these individuals, having too many people on calls has been largely to blame at 12%. This is then closely followed by the impression that co-workers are more uptight and stressed (10%). Others attributed this to having less time (9%) and seeing colleagues in their home setting (5%).
Remarkably, a previous survey done in May 2020 also demonstrated how this latter reasoning can go both ways. It revealed that 40% of UK workers judge their colleagues on how their house looks over video conferencing. Of these respondents, 28% viewed their co-workers more favourably as a result, while 12% felt that the state of their co-workers’ house negatively influenced their judgement.
“When we first began this mass experiment of remote working, a number of concerns arose. Chief among them was the fear that a lack of face-to-face time would deteriorate company culture. Yet, fortunately, as these results show, that does not have to be the case,” said Yvonne Eskenzi, co-founder and director of Eskenzi PR. “Nevertheless, should we choose to transition into permanent remote working, adjustments need to be introduced to support those who have been struggling. Women in particular, who are likely doing the heavy lifting in the balance between home and work life as well as potentially experiencing greater intimidation to speak up on calls. Human resources need to implement a number of measures to address this, from hosting one-on-one chats and personal development webinars to creating a mental health and wellness programme.