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Office love on the rocks – workplace relationships are the latest casualty of Covid

by wrich

The rise of permanent home working spells disaster for office friendships as new research shows more than three quarters of Brits have made personal relationships through work.

London 16 August 2021 — Office romances and friendships could be on the rocks as workers continue to spend more time at home than in the office with over a fifth (22%) of UK workers revealing that they met their partner or spouse at work and 78% making lasting personal relationships. This is according to research from the UK’s largest online venue booking platform, VenueScanner.

The research, among 1,000 office workers, reveals that only 1 in 5 expect to be fully office-based now we are post ‘Freedom Day’, limiting the amount of time they spend in the company of their workmates. And despite 94% of workers being keen to meet up again with colleagues, only 15% want to be in the office full time. 56% prefer to mix home and office working, while 28% want to be fully home-based.

In addition to those workers who have met a future partner at work, a further 58% revealed they have made good friends at work and 14% played Cupid, acting as matchmakers introducing colleagues to other friends outside of work. 

17% of employees made a colleague their gym or hobby buddy and 6% met someone that they keep in regular contact with outside of work.

Rebecca Kelly, CEO and founder of VenueScanner, says, “Virtual and remote working has undoubtedly taken its toll on work relationships – it’s much more difficult to strike up meaningful conversations this way.  Office camaraderie provides a level of human connection we all need – and so plays a big role in motivating people and driving success, yet it’s in danger of fizzling out if get-togethers stay largely virtual.”

The research, conducted by Sapio, also highlights that as home working becomes the new norm for many for the foreseeable future, in person contact with colleagues will be crucial to workers’ mental health and performance moving forward. 86% said this contact was important for their mental health; 83% said it was important for job satisfaction; and 82% said it made a difference to performance and productivity.

The research found that younger people are most likely to have met a partner at work with a third (30%) of 18-24 year olds striking up a close personal relationship leading to becoming partners or even spouses. Women are more likely to make a good work friend with 63% of those surveyed forming solid friendships compared to 52% of men.

VenueScanner’s Kelly continues: “While we no longer need to be sitting next to each other to get our work done, employers must recognise the importance of some face to face interaction amongst their workforce in order to drive productivity, health and of course, happiness. 

“Our research reinforces the importance of investing in getting teams back together and with the use of both office space and external venues being re-imagined, there are new opportunities to introduce innovative ideas that workers will love.” 

Sophie Scott, workplace wellbeing expert and psychotherapist, comments: “Flirting and striking up conversation gives us a feeling of confidence and potency in the world. And it requires practice. Daily small talk, which usually centres on what’s right in front of us, paves the way for deeper and more meaningful connections to build. Without it, our self-esteem, motivation, perception and communication skills erode. Most of us can recognise the giddy high we experience when sussing out someone in our environment – whether platonic or not.

“Not to mention, even cohabiting couples in a happy relationship require some healthy distance and space from one another in order to keep eroticism, curiosity and the imagination alive.”

VenueScanner has released a report based on the research to help employers work out how to create effective remote and flexible working teams. To access the report, click here.

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