It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on 20 months of disrupted work, whether you’ve had to be in the office with new protocols, come in every once in a while, or have stayed 100% remote. Yet despite this disruption, we all know that work has continued to soar, with some industries such as education, tech, manufacturing and telehealth experiencing massive growth.

But what happens when work is massively impacted, and so much still has to be done? We’re left with employees experiencing ambiguity and uncertainty, unsure of what comes next.

Throughout September, partnered with Wakefield Research and Dr. Melba Nichols Sullivan to survey U.S. workers either in the office or returning to the office, to uncover what can truly bring happiness to work. In other words, what do employers need to take a look at today to ensure they are creating a welcoming, transparent work environment where employees can thrive, grow and feel supported. Here are some of the main takeaways:

More Than Money: Office Workers Say Coworkers Are More Important Than Salary – And It Isn’t Close

  • The return to the office is about more than productivity: it’s about workers finding meaning and happiness at work. In a stunning upset, returning office workers are most likely to cite their coworkers (54%) as a top source of happiness at work—more than the work itself (42%) or even their salary (40%), reveals a survey conducted by
  • For nearly 1 in 3 (32%) workers, the number of hours worked and where their workday is spent (30%) influence their happiness at work.

Let Me Be Frank: Office Workers Are Experiencing Hesitancy When It Comes To Difficult Conversations Around Feedback, Flexible Hours or Time Off

  • Giving and receiving feedback is always tricky, and recently returned office workers aren’t eager to start talking. More than a quarter (26%) hesitate to have discussions on feedback.
  • But more than a third (36%) hesitate to discuss scheduling. In fact, 1 in 5 (22%) are nervous to ask for scheduling flexibility for personal commitments and another 1 in 5 (22%) are uncomfortable requesting paid time off.
  • Millennials are the most anxious about work conversations, with a shocking 84% indicating they are hesitant to have a conversation with someone supervising their work.

Looking to the Future: An Overwhelming Majority of Workers Are Worried About Prioritizing Wellbeing Post-Pandemic 

  • A shocking 92% of recently returned office workers are concerned that once the threat of COVID-19 subsides, their employer will reduce their focus on employee wellbeing.
  • 77% do not trust that their employer is taking their wellbeing into account at work—including a shocking 87% of in-person office workers.

When we took a look at these stats, we realized there are tangible steps that employers can take today to address the concerns of their employees. Here are some takeaways that we’re focusing on:

  • Collaboration. It’s obvious that work is about so much more than the salary you make, and the work you’re doing. Employees want to feel connected to the people around them, and thankfully we have the tools to make that happen. As a solution, try to spend less time on status update meetings by leveraging your Work OS and connectivity tools, and provide more time for coworkers and their team leads to simply get to know their teammates better. Team leads can also offer regular, standup meetings as a way to maintain culture and connection even while working remotely.
  • Communication. There are always difficult conversations to be had, and those topics have become increasingly sensitive while most of us are at home, not seeing our team leads face-to-face. Conversations around time off, flexible hours and feedback are absolutely necessary, and managers need to prioritize them. Set expectations early, and provide your team with the technology and tools needed to facilitate a regular and open line of communication to address these needs. This could look something like regular one on one sessions with your teammates, or monthly office hours where anyone is welcome to join and address their needs.
  • Trust and Transparency. A majority of us took a fresh look at what “well being” meant during the pandemic. It could be something as simple as getting outside everyday to move around, to trying to maintain regular working hours and a routine. But the reality is, employees are worried these priorities will vanish once we move past the pandemic. Company leaders must recognize that these needs matter beyond the pandemic, and set systems in place so that they continue to thrive in the future, not just when employees desperately need it.
  • Ownership. Having an environment that facilitates ownership is critically important to the success of a hybrid team. While the pandemic has undoubtedly brought disruption and uncertainty to the forefront, it’s also given employers a unique opportunity to reimagine our work, and create an equitable and fair workplace. Knowing what the key performance indicators are and having a stake in those results means that you’ll be able to take transparency to an even greater level.

Things such as collaboration, communication and trust seem simple enough, but they need to be built into our office systems and technology so employees can thrive and feel supported in every aspect of their work. When company leaders take the time to truly listen to employee needs, it becomes a better place for everyone — no matter what that office looks like.