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Three quarters of employees feel worse a year into remote working - study

Remote workers are still struggling with distracting working environments, stress and an always-on culture after a year of working from home, according to new research by Egress.

The Egress Remote Working: One Year On report found three-quarters of remote workers reported feeling worse as a result of long-term working from home, with almost over one-third (39%) feeling more stressed. 

The research also revealed a significant generational divide, with 66% of millennial and generation Z workers reporting feeling either tired, stressed or under more pressure at work, compared with 34% of baby boomer and Gen-X employees.

The study found three-quarters (73%) of respondents report feeling worse overall as a result of long-term remote working. Of those, 66% of millennial and generation Z remote workers feel more tired, stressed or under more pressure, compared with only 34% of baby boomer and generation X employees.

Almost half (48%) of millennial and generation Z remote workers are still working from a shared space, compared with 33% of baby boomers and generation X, the report found. 

According to the research, employees communication habits have changed, with 85% of employees sending more emails and 77% using video conferencing tools more frequently than before the pandemic. 

Forty three percent of respondents were full-time office-based before the pandemic, and just 28% plan to return full-time once the pandemic is over, while 68% of workers plan for some degree of flexibility, with just 5% of current remote workers planning to stay permanently remote once their office reopens.

After a year of working from home, many employees are still putting up with the same makeshift offices they set up in March 2020. Almost half (48%) of younger workers reported working in a shared space, compared with one-third of their baby boomer and generation X counterparts. Overall, just 28% of remote workers have solo access to a home office.

Remote working has inevitably changed how employees communicate, with increased reliance on digital tools. Email is the preferred channel, with 85% of employees reporting that they are sending more of them than when they were based in the office. The pandemic has also seen the rise of video conferencing, with 77% of employees indicating that they are using tools like Zoom more now too.

While 43% of respondents were based in the office full-time before the pandemic, theres been a clear shift in attitudes towards flexible working. Just 28% of respondents are currently planning to return to the office full-time once that option becomes available. Hybrid working was the most popular choice, with 68% of remote workers indicating that they would like a mixture of office and remote working. 

Just 5% of remote workers plan to work from home full-time in the future. When it comes to returning full-time, theres a clear generational divide, with 35% of millennials and generation Z employees planning to return full-time, compared with just 22% of their baby boomer and generation X counterparts.

"For those who have been working from home for the last year, there have been significant changes to a typical working day," says Richard Mortimer, chief people officer at Egress.

"For many remote workers these findings will contain lots of familiar points many have experienced increased work pressures, stress and distractions during this period, and for younger employees in particular, challenges around shared workspaces can be particularly difficult. 

"While for some employees, remote working has been a welcome break from the office and the daily commute, for others it has been a different story. With many organisations now contemplating what the future looks like in terms of returning to the office, its important that all employees voices are heard."