in partnership with.png

Written by Kieran Delamont, Associate Editor, London Inc.


Friends at work? Not so much

Is kicking back, relaxing and sharing a few laughs with coworkers after work on the way out?

THERE ARE MANY sides to the debate over remote work, pros and cons galore, but one thing that remote work has clearly disrupted ― not just for the teleworkers, but across the workforce ― is the formation of workplace friendships.


Gallup survey data recently found that the percentage of employees under 35 who say they have a best friend at work has fallen from 25 per cent to 20 per cent since 2019. Then, 79 per cent of people said they knew their coworkers on a personal level; in 2024, that number has dropped to 68 per cent.


“It is a marked shift from even a decade ago, when bonds fostered at work helped compensate for declining participation in chuch, community groups and other social institutions,” wrote Te-Ping Chen in The Wall Street Journal. “As the workday becomes more faceless and scheduled, the number of adults who call themselves lonely has climbed to 58 per cent from 46 per cent in 2018.”


It’s important to note that many have suggested that Canadians are already in a “loneliness crisis,” made worse by Covid lockdowns, but exacerbated by shifts in how we work. Some remote workplaces have tried to generate greater levels of friendship formation with activities and retreats, but those aren’t great substitutes, experts say.


“It’s about serendipitous interaction,” said Gallup research director Ben Wigert. “Some of that gets lost in the retreats. If an event is so big and structured, you lose some of that natural interaction.”


Some workers say forming friendships at work is simply no longer a priority. “The pandemic changed everything,” wrote remote worker and Business Insider editor Alexandra Karplus. “While I like my coworkers…these relationships have not grown into friendships. Yes, we have a slack channel to share pictures of our cats, but I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting someone’s dog by surprise at a team picnic.”


The obvious question might be, would in-person work reverse this trend? Maybe, but experts question whether the current wave of RTO is going to have a positive effect. “Just skipping to in-person work and hoping that somehow people re-bond is wrong,” said Constance Hadley, a researcher at the Questrom School of Business. “A forced return to the office with tremendous employee resistance can create that alienation that will increase loneliness.”


The promotion recession

Having a tough time moving up the career ladder? Youre not alone

WITHIN WHITE-COLLAR WORKERS, new data suggests promotions have nearly ground to a halt. Workforce analytics firm Live Data Technologies looked at workplace data and found that advancements have hit their lowest point in the last five years.


“Among 68 million white-collar professionals, just 1.3 per cent were promoted in the first three months of the year,” reports Bloomberg, “the lowest rate for any first quarter in data going back five years.”


Data from payroll provider ADP meanwhile, found that promotion rates fell in 2023 for virtually every generational cohort across the board.


What’s behind this? “Employers hold more leverage, reducing the need to move employees up the ladder in order to retain them,” wrote LinkedIn News editor James Callan. At the same time, fewer workers are opting to switch jobs as the pandemic trend of job-hopping is on the wane.


“It’s becoming both a slower labour market with less churn, and a more competitive labour market with more labour competition,” said ZipRecruiter economist Julia Pollak.


“For workers, fewer opportunities for job advancement hurts confidence and career prospects,” noted financial advisor Andy Wang. “A job market where full-time opportunities are scarce hurts innovation and dynamism.”


On the other hand, some experts suggest that we might just be seeing a cooling off period from the 2021-2022 era of frenzied hiring, and that the promotions market will inevitably return to its natural rate. But it’s a strategy that isn’t without risk.


“If you don’t promote somebody, there’s a much higher chance that they’ll leave,” said economics professor David Demming. “It’s a savings for the bottom line in the short run, but it’s a risk in the long run that you’ve under-invested in your business.”

Terry Talks: Why measuring employee engagement is a priority

The research is unequivocal. Employees with a sense of purpose and a high level of job satisfaction perform better than those who aren’t engaged. It’s a force multiplier to have a happy and engaged team. If you’re concerned about how your organization stacks up on the engagement front, use Ahria’s People Power Index to gain valuable insights without any cost or commitment. We’ll provide you with a complimentary report pinpointing your organization’s strengths and areas for improvement. 



How WFH is working out

For the first time in years, Statistics Canada releases data on how people spend their time when working remotely

STATISTICS CANADA HAS come out with its first in-depth study since the start of the pandemic of how workers are really spending their time while working remotely.


Called the Time Use Survey, it’s the first such survey since 2010, and it examined how different categories of workers (full-time remote, hybrid and full-time in-person) spent their time between July 2022 and 2023.


Overall, they found that the amount of paid work time was constant between the three groups, but when it came to how they spent the rest of their time, the three groups showed some interesting differences:


Hybrid workers commute further: The biggest finding was estimating how much commute is actually saved by WFH arrangements. On average, hybrid workers’ commutes are 11 minutes longer than full-time in-person workers, at 74 minutes and 63 minutes, respectively. Hybrid workers, on average, “were located slightly farther away from their office or worksite than non-teleworkers.”


Chores, chores, chores: The survey found that workers are generally reallocating that time to housework. “Working from home was associated with about 16 minutes more in unpaid housework compared to non-teleworkers,” the survey found. In contrast with American studies, they found that both men and women picked up more of the household chores with their extra time.


Remote work = more dad time: Much has been said about the extra parenting duties that revolve around remote work, but one finding from the survey is that fathers who teleworked from home spent an extra half hour with their kids, and 22 minutes more than hybrid workers. (Moms also spent more time with their kids, but the effect was less pronounced between groups.)


Hybrid workers are more stretched: One interesting finding was that hybrid workers reported higher levels of time pressure than both remote and full-time in-person workers. “The reasons for this difference are unclear,” the survey concluded. “Perhaps the slightly longer commute time observed for [hybrid workers] may contribute to time pressure.” Or, it suggested “the lack of stability in alternating between work and home may contribute to increased time pressure.”


A number of experts looking at the data said it’s a clear win for remote work. “For me, it raises the question of why we continue to force mandates into the office,” said Jennifer Moss, a workplace expert, speaking to CBC’s Ottawa Morning. “When you look at this data, people are getting better sleep. They’re feeling more rested. They’re getting more leisure time. I think what I’m hoping is that it pushes that question: how do we want to be able to work in this future of work? Does it look like teleworking? All the data points to yes.”


Stuck in the muck

Gallup has released its annual State of the Workforce report. Whats notable is this years analysis is how little has changed

ELSEWHERE IN THE annals of big data releases was this year’s State of the Workforce report, an annual publication from Gallup that looks to capture a wide picture of how workers around the world are doing.


And much like last year, the answer is: checked out, stressed and lonely.


“Most employees are not engaged [62 per cent] ― those who show up, do the bare minimum and are uninspired by their work, or actively disengaged (15 per cent) ― those who have a bad manager and a miserable job and are actively seeking a new one,” Gallup reported. “Not engaged and actively disengaged employees, in aggregate, account for $8.9 trillion in lost productivity worldwide.”


Only 23 per cent of workers worldwide reported feeling engaged; in Canada and the U.S., that number sits around 33 per cent, the highest regional percentage recorded by Gallup.


Okay, still, not great. But there are some encouraging trends in this year’s data ― namely, stress levels (which were elevated during Covid) seem to have peaked and came down slightly in this latest report. In Canada, half of workers said they felt a lot of stress at work, but slightly more than half said they were also “thriving in life.” 


And loneliness levels, too, have plateaued, suggesting that the dark days of pandemic-era loneliness have crested.


But stepping back, perhaps the biggest takeaway is how little has changed year-over-year, especially in the workplace stress category. It’s one of the highlights that Gallup CEO Jon Clifton was particularly keen to point out.


“Leaders know workplace stress is a problem — they’ve seen the data, heard it from their colleagues and experienced it themselves. Many are trying to address it, but often in ineffective ways,” Clifton wrote in the report’s introduction.


“Mindfulness and wellbeing apps aren’t the problem, but when bad management uses them as a fix, it can make things worse. What works better? Changing the way people are managed at an organizational level.” 


LinkedIn Share This Email

Follow Us

Facebook  Instagram  LinkedIn  Twitter