Office Workers: We miss the water cooler moments

Business Insights

As Britain’s army of office workers prepares to return to work, a new poll has revealed exactly what they’ve missed most – water cooler chatter.

The survey by Utility Bidder found that six out of ten office workers missed chatting to colleagues about last night’s TV and other non-work related events.

The overwhelming majority, 86%, felt supported by their employers during the lockdown period but almost two thirds, 62%, missed chatting to co-workers and almost half, 45%, missed the regular routine of working life.

Millions of UK workers have been forced to work from their homes for the very first time over the past few months during the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown.

Business energy comparison website Utility Bidder surveyed 1,000 office workers who had begun working from home because of the lockdown.

Almost three quarters (74%) said their experience of working from home had been either good or very good, compared to just five per cent who claimed it had been bad and only one per cent who said it was very bad.

Bosses will be relieved to hear that almost half of those surveyed (44%) felt more productive when working from home while almost as many (43%) felt their own personal health and wellbeing had improved during the lockdown.

Almost four in ten (39%) said their time management was better when working from home while more than one fifth (22%) felt the productivity of their team had increased. One in ten also felt their clients were happier.

However, despite these benefits, a majority of those questioned said they still missed the office with 62% saying they missed their colleagues and 45% missing the routine of office life.

Almost four in ten people (39%) said they missed the professional working environment while a further 28% missed communicating with others.

One respondent told Utility Bidder:

“Working from home has been fine and I’ve surprised myself with just how much work I’ve managed to get done. But it’s been three months now and to be honest, I miss the company of my team at the office.

“We’ve had plenty of video calls and zoom meetings, even virtual office drinks after work on a Friday. But nothing is quite the same as the banter you have with friends at work each day.

“It’s the little things you miss, like chatting over last night’s TV at the water cooler. You just don’t do that online.

“On the whole though everyone has pulled together and we’ve come through the crisis stronger as a team. I’m sure I’m not the only one though who’s itching to get back to the office for a good chat.”

The survey also revealed that more than half (54%) of workers said their employer had supported their health and wellbeing while working from home with 12% saying a lot of support had been provided. Only 13% of those questioned said they had received no support from their employers although 32% said they would have liked more.

Despite this, the crisis has led to many fearing for their future with a majority of those surveyed admitting to some anxiety over job uncertainty.

Almost one-fifth of the office workers said options over home working would be a factor in future job choice with 11% saying it was a factor already and eight per cent saying it definitely would be from now on.

James Longley, Managing Director at Utility Bidder said:

“British workers are an adaptable lot and our survey shows most have taken to the new reality of working from home without too many problems.

“Employers have helped support their teams through this difficult time and that’s why thousands of UK companies have been able to continue doing business during this crisis.

“It does seem though that many are now missing the office and are keen to get back to see their friends and colleagues at work.”

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