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Survey of hybrid workers reveals 60% can no longer cope with office noise

Survey of hybrid workers reveals 60% can no longer cope with office noise

Communications equipment and software company Poly surveyed more than 7000 European hybrid workers (2000 UK) with some interesting results:

  • 71% believed 9 to 5 had been replaced with ‘anytime working’
  • 72% of young workers were kept up at night worrying about having to return to the office
  • 60% felt less able to switch off from work
  • 64% felt more productive at home
  • 60% felt that noise from colleagues would break their concentration
  • 46% of UK workers felt hybrid working would negatively impact career development (increasing to 52% of younger workers)
  • 54% felt that remote working made them less able to learn from peers and seniors
  • 48% felt it adversely impacted communication with colleagues
  • 57% felt hybrid or homeworkers might be treated differently to office workers
  • 61% of finance workers feel hybrid working ended suit wearing for good.

Source: Poly: The evolution of the workplace 06/10/2021.

Noise Rage

Poly’s report raised the concept of ‘noise rage’ and this aligns with our own experiences at myHRdept. Prior to the pandemic our staff worked happily with client phone conversations being conducted around them while they conducted their own calls, but now our staff tell us they can’t concentrate with the noise of someone else’s call in the background.

These findings will be music to Poly’s ears given what they do, but we wouldn’t for a second suggest their research is any way slanted by a desire to sell noise cancelling headphones.

What people miss about the office

Poly’s report gives a balanced view of what people like, as well as what they don’t like, about working in offices. ‘Office banter, going for lunch with clients/colleagues and office camaraderie’ were the top three things workers miss about the office. When asked to list the best reasons to return to the office, ‘brainstorming / collaborating with colleagues, attending meetings and access to better equipment and technology’ were the most common answers.

What people don’t miss & what they gain from homeworking days

When asked about the benefits of working from home, the top three responses given were: avoiding lengthy commutes, achieving a better work-life balance and feeling less stressed. Similarly, when asked what they would miss about working from home, people highlighted lie ins, time with family and finishing on time.

Impact on young workers

The report suggests that the impact of hybrid working and the loss of the office culture has had a most profound effect on younger workers, many of whom are worried about returning to the office on the one hand, while on the other hand fearing that a career of hybrid or home working would impede their ability to form relationships and communicate with their peers – 50% surveyed felt less confident of being able to engage in small talk than prior to the pandemic.


The report recommends that employers make efforts to understand individual team member’s personality types and working style preferences, and suggests that more effort needs to be made to identify the best technology –it points out that while video platforms are now essential, the quality varies dramatically. The report also suggests that meeting spaces (the new word for ‘office’) should be modernised to include sound-proofed private working areas as well as collaborative working spaces.

Going virtual

Abandoning the office is a risk, for all of the reasons reported by Poly, but for some organisations it will be an option. After several weeks of hybrid working, myHRdept has reluctantly abandoned the 1000 feet of office space we used to occupy, as our staff have expressed a general reluctance to return. Instead our HR operations team continue to meet for video meeting twice daily, and we’ve introduced monthly full team meetings, the first of which will be in a couple of weeks’ time. These are designed to encourage collaboration and communication, and will involve guest speakers and developmental work.

To some extent this is an experiment to see whether the new regime, and the monthly full day meetings in particular, can replace some of the things that office working provided via osmosis rather than through an agenda. We shall see, and look forward to reporting our progress as the year progresses.

HR support services from myHRdept

Included within all of our HR outsourced support packages is a bank of support hours to help with a wide variety of HR issues. Clients have recently asked for support in forming ‘pre-return to work’ questionnaires, homeworking policies and temporary variation to terms letters to allow hybrid working for a temporary period. If you need help with your future working arrangements, you might consider engaging with myHRdept – we can help you with your people plans and HR issues, in addition to providing employment law compliance advice, frameworks and support.

If you’re thinking of outsourcing your HR or employment law needs, why not contact myHRdept? Call us on 01628 820515, email us at to discuss your requirements, or contact us via our website and we’ll call you back.


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