When offices around the world started shutting down to curb the spread of COVID-19, the assumption was that this would only be a brief measure. Five months later, and with likes of Shopify, Zillow and Slack leading the charge, there is no doubt that remote working is here to stay.
In the past, whether we knew it or not, many of us relied on those spontaneous lunches with colleagues, or the mutual hatred for the printer to get through the day. In 2018, a survey conducted by Researchers at Olivet Nazarene Univerity found that “82% of respondents reported to having at least one work friend” and “nearly 30% said that they had a work best friend”. Regardless of whether it’s out of necessity, convenience or just boredom, there is no doubt that socialising is an important part of work.
Another paper published by Gallup concluded that having a close work friend increases fulfilment, productivity and even company loyalty. However, along the same line:
“Loneliness in the office can affect both professional and personal well-being.”
And now, amidst the global pandemic, there is strong evidence to suggest that this issue is more universal than ever before. According to Mental Health provider, Ginger;
“63% of respondents have said that the coronavirus pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career.”
There is a real risk that work-from-home-burnout is quickly becoming the next societal health crisis. A July Monster.com survey found that;
“69% of respondents have experienced burnout since the pandemic started, up from 52% in May.”
Okay, so you get the point, times are tough — it’s normal and we shouldn’t feel alone. We’re all in this together. It won’t be easy, but we absolutely need to start incorporating “play” into our company culture. A study by the Association for Psychological Science found evidence that;
“Play at work is linked with less fatigue, boredom, stress, and burnout in individual workers. Play is also positively associated with job satisfaction, sense of competence, and creativity.”
And even more importantly, the research suggests that team play:
“…increased trust, bonding and social interaction, sense of solidarity, and a decreased sense of hierarchy. Furthermore, findings suggest that play at work can benefit whole organizations by creating a friendlier work atmosphere, higher employee commitment to work, more flexible organization-wide decision making, and increased organizational creativity.”
So, problem solved? Well yes, to some extent, but it's not that easy. Planning any type of team building activity is time-consuming, cumbersome, expensive and often yields very short-lived benefits. That’s why at HomeWerk our mission is to provide an easy way for colleagues to have fun through shared experiences whilst promoting healthy, modern workplace practises.
Over the last few months, we’ve had hundreds of users from a wide variety of industries, take short intervals in their week to connect with their colleagues. And yep, you guessed it, the results have been mightily impressive!
94% of our users agreed that this was an easy way to stay in touch with their team.
100% of the team members that we interviewed who were hired after May 2020 agreed that non-work-related activities were the most valuable for understanding the company culture.
88% of our users reported feeling less-isolated and happier after playing a quiz with their colleagues.
Whether we like it or not, we must embrace remote working as part of our new normal. There is no doubt that to ride these turbulent waves it’s going to take a lot of hard work, resilience and sheer determination to get through it. However, all of this should be balanced. Even companies which have already seen instant success through this new way of work, must remain cautious and not disregard the impending risk of employee burnout. The evidence continues to point towards the fact that ‘play’ is an integral element to our working lives, and can reduce feelings of isolation, stress and increase bonding, and solidarity across the company.
*So, for the sake of your happiness, next time you work hard, don’t forget to play hard too!