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Workers Feel Least Connected in Office, New Data Shows

Only one in six American workers feels "highly connected" to their company or the team they work with.

Remote work, the saying so often goes, is lonely and disempowering. 

It keeps tech workers alone and isolated instead of fostering in-person connections at the office.

"I do think for a business like ours which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal," Goldman Sachs Goldman CEO David Solomon said in a much-criticized 2021 push to return to the office. 

"It's an aberration that we’re going to correct as quickly as possible," he said.

But while this is a common talking point of executives trying to lure workers back to the office, a recent study shows otherwise.

In that, in-person workers said they were more likely to say that they were "not connected" to their team than those able to work remotely.

Office Workers Are Not As 'Connected' As Execs Think

According to a recent study by consulting firm Accenture Plc, around 22% of remote workers said they feel "not connected" to their work firm.

For those working in-person in the office, that number is just over 40%.

When looked at together, only one in six American workers feel "highly connected" to their company or the team they work with. 

Just one in four feel that superiors are responsive to their needs, communicate regularly and treat team members equally.

But when leaders were asked to judge how connected their team was, they tended to overestimate the actual sentiments by more than double.

"One in two CEOs are investing to unlock talent to drive their business transformations," reads the report. 

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"However, many people are fundamentally re-thinking their relationship with work — out of choice or necessity due to the mental health epidemic, isolation, social upheaval, widening equity gaps, the global impacts of the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions, rising inflation and more."

The motivation to make employees feel comfortable and connected to their team goes beyond being "kind" or a "good boss."

According to another analysis run by Accenture, companies in which the majority of the team feels connected earn an average of 7.4% more per year.

Feeling connected also minimizes team conflicts and crises that ultimately take away from the bottom line.

What Should Bosses Be Doing To Fix This?

For many employees, working remotely offers infinite advantages.

From saving time on the commute and the ability to move out of expensive cities like New York, to more flexibility to balance certain home and family responsibilities, remote work is a resounding favorite. 

"After two-plus years of remote or hybrid work arrangements for millions of people, it’s easy to confuse the commute from the bed to the desk with the notion of flexibility," reads the report. 

"They're not one and the same," it reads.

In turn, a certain section of the workforce needs an office to stay concentrated and productive. 

Studies around this differ, with one showing this number to be at over 40% and others showing only 10%.

As the need for an in-person office will vary greatly between both industries and individual companies, it will never be possible to find a one-size-fits-all approach that works for every team.

But by evaluating other factors like employees' opportunity to advance and bring up concerns to senior management alongside work-life flexibility, employers may be able to take one small step toward fostering a truly healthy office climate.

"Unfortunately, too many conversations about organizational culture are still anchored to space and place," reads the Accenture report.