Latest Return to Office Insights and Rumblings - February 2023 Newsletter

This month's newsletter will include the on-going battle around the impact of remote work on anxiety, tax breaks for offices, co-working spaces, office friendships and Amazon's 3 day mandate.

We hope this content is helpful as you navigate your return to the office plans and flexible work.

Remote, hybrid work linked to more anxiety, depression by Ginger Christ (HR Dive)

As we continue with work in 2023, we are seeing more research on the impacts of the pandemic on our work and personal lives. This article shares some research on how this impacted employee well-being during this time. While this was a tough time for mental health for everyone there's some interesting data in relation to work styles.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • Workers had an increased rate of anxiety and depression symptoms if they were fully remote (40%) or hybrid (38%), compared to those who worked in-person (35%), according to a Feb. 20 report from health and productivity research non-profit Integrated Benefits Institute. 
  • Google searches for same-day mental health services and centers for workplace mental health grew 1,300% from February 2020 to February 2022, according to a report by marketing platform Semrush. And searches for “how to ask for a mental health day” skyrocketed 1,000% during the same period. 
  • Sixty-four percent of executives said remote work negatively affected their employees’ mental health, up from 55% the previous year, according to an October 2022 survey by RSM US and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Seventy-three percent said workers felt isolated, an increase from 68% in 2021.


Tax Breaks Threaten Remote Work If Cities Start Enforcing Them by Jo Constantz and Sarah Holder (Bloomberg)

One interesting development with the remote work movement is the impact on corporate office space in large cities and municipalities and the tax breaks they get to occupy high traffic space. With less traffic and reduced revenue from commuters, it will be interesting how these local governments tackle tax breaks for employers whose spaces are not occupied.

Highlights include:

  • Of the billions in tax incentives granted to US companies every year by cities and states, many agreements require workers to come into the office some of the time, or at least live in the region. For companies receiving these incentives, relaxing in-office attendance could be costly.
  • New Jersey and Texas are states that stand out for spelling out exactly how often employees must work from the office to qualify for tax breaks. Before the pandemic, several New Jersey tax programs required workers to show up at least 80% of the time, and one Texas program set the threshold at 50%.
  • Another initiative created in New Jersey during the pandemic, the Emerge Program, hints at what future incentives might look: Rather than commit to a certain percentage of time spent in office, applicants have to prove that 80% of eligible employees’ work time is spent in the state — and that they have enough space to accommodate at least half of their workforce on site, “without packing people in like a sardine can,” Sullivan said. 


Research: How Co-working Spaces Impact Employee Well-Being by Constance Noonan Hadley, Ben Marks and Sarah Wright (Harvard Business Review)

Many organizations are trying to determine the best configuration of office space for their employees to drive productivity, collaboration and team unity. This research takes a look at co-working, office and remote work and the impacts of the different styles.

Here are the highlights:

  • We surveyed 819 employees working in office roles across the geographic and industry spectrum. Results showed, to our surprise, that respondents experienced working from a third space like a coworking site as more socially fulfilling than working from the office (64%) or from home (67%). One major reason is that a coworking space offers not just the flexibility employees crave in terms of where they work, but also with whom.
  • By nature, coworking sites gather professionals from a wide variety of occupations and companies. As a senior analyst in the U.S. noted, “There’s value in the diversity of experiences there. You meet people that you’d otherwise be unable to at a standard office.” This diversity coupled with independence allows for more choice in partners.
  • Companies can help employees overcome the convenience trap of working from home by making switching to coworking sites easier. In our interviews, we heard that simple fixes like providing extra power cords and noise-canceling headsets to store at the site can go a long way toward reducing the hassle factor. Parking and commuting discounts can also help get people out of their apartments and houses more regularly.


From 'quiet hiring' to 'rage applying', here's the top workplace buzzwords of 2023 – and what they mean by Lakshmi Varanasi, Sarah Jackson and Samantha Delouya (World Economic Forum)

This is more focused on HR and workforce management but good article on all the buzzwords being thrown around that are impacting hiring, retention and employee productivity. With the current labor market, we'll continue to see these trends impact our teams and usage of our spaces.

A few buzzwords discussed include:

  • Rage applying is the practice of mass applying for jobs fueled by feelings of unhappiness at work. And it seems it has the potential to pay off.
  • While it sounds similar to quiet quitting, resenteeism takes things a step further. Rather than avoiding extra work under the radar, employees experiencing resenteeism aren't concealing their growing bitterness.
  • Minshew terms this "shift shock," though the phenomenon can go by other names as well, such as new-hires' remorse.
  • Career Cushioning involves workers starting to look for other jobs while still in their current roles, is often called "career cushioning," or "recession-proofing." The term started to take off late last year and is on the rise as many companies announce surprise job cuts.


Amazon wants corporate staff to be in office 3 days a week by Bloomberg Money Watch

Amazon recently put out a mandate to employees that they will require employees to be in the office 3 days a week. This is not the first employer to do this but another interesting case to follow up on as we determine hybrid policies as an industry.

Some interesting insights include: 

  • CEO Andy Jassy announced the policy Friday in a memo to staff. The new policy, which goes in effect May 1, marks a shift from Amazon's current policy of letting leaders determine how their teams work.

  • Last month, Starbucks told its corporate employees to plan to work from the office three days a week. Disney is asking staff to plan for four in-office days starting in March. And Walmart said this week that it would require its tech teams to plan regular in-office work days.


5 Steps to Creating a Janitorial Employee Performance Program

At CrowdComfort, we are helping corporate occupiers as well as schools and universities, effectively prove the value they are receiving from their cleaning spend with daily reporting on all cleaning activities that enables employees to prove their every day hard work with performance-based incentives programs to improve retention.

Learn more about setting up a performance based incentives program here


Return to Office Employee Sentiment employee experience workplace strategy Workplace Experience Janitorial Performance Programs Tax Breaks Remote Work hybrid work


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