The overworked caretaker is torn between meeting work responsibilities and managing family needs, while the autonomy seeker is thrilled to work at their own rhythm, without someone constantly looking over their shoulder.

A report by Steelcase shows employees in the APAC region have enjoyed some aspects of remote working (such as lack of commute and better work-life balance), however isolation has driven a desire to return to the office. 

The report, titled Changing Expectations and the Future of Work, features responses across 10 countries - including China, India and Australia - with more than 32,000 participants, finds that globally, most employees expect to work from home one day a week or less post-COVID (55% 1 day a week or less; 28% 2-3 days and 17% 4-5 days).

In doing so, Steelcase pinpointed five patterns of work-from-home experiences based on people's behaviours and attitudes. It’s important to note that it’s possible for people to associate themselves with more than one of the patterns. They are meant to be extreme categories that can help us understand the different experiences people have had and what their expectations may be when they return to the workplace.

Meet the five work-from-home personas below. Can you spot yourself as one of the extremes or are you a blend?

1. Overworked Caretaker

Home office is a nonstop flow of competing demands. This person is torn between meeting work responsibilities and managing family needs. Their long, jam-packed day is chopped between meetings, focus work, homeschooling and domestic chores. Exhaustion and guilt are piling up. They take comfort in finally being allowed to show they are parents and not worry if their kids are heard on a call.

They miss the office for the opportunity to leave home responsibilities behind and have control over their attention.

But they appreciate the flexibility to work from home as needed to more easily manage between their family and work responsibilities.

2. Relieved Self-Preservationist

Home office is the only place I am safe. This person’s main concern is not COVID; it’s their psychological safety. They feel their company is creating a hostile work environment and working from home has been a welcome respite from an organisation they feel does not appreciate them.

They’re less anxious and more productive, able to focus on work, rather than managing relationships.

Working from home gives them a more human experience that allows them to work in a space that is their own.

3. Frustrated Creative Networker

Home office is a suspension from normal life and work. These individuals are conflicted about returning to the office. They spend most of their day co-creating, coaching, persuading and connecting the dots — work done much better in the office, especially with larger groups. But although they desire the benefits of the office, they don’t think it’s safe to return.

They have quickly adapted the use of digital tools, but they crave more — virtual meeting technology is still too limited for creative collaboration and informal, spontaneous connections across silos.

COVID has been a huge challenge when they suddenly found themselves cut off from in-person interactions that drive their work. With limited tools and a lack of experience in making them work, they have shifted focus to more individual tasks done more easily from home.

4. Autonomy Seeker

Home office is freedom. Thrilled to work at their own rhythm, without someone constantly looking over their shoulder, this person feels just as productive at home as before, if not more.

They feel a greater sense of wellbeing at home, where they can look out the window, sit in different postures, cook healthy meals and weave in activities that help them recharge and relax, such as hanging out with their pet.

They especially enjoy the level of control they have in designing their own work experience to curate a schedule that braids together life events and work events.

5. Isolated Zoomer

Home office is a lonely cage. This person lives alone without any self-imposed boundaries to keep to a healthy work schedule. They’ll return to the office when they trust their employer has taken necessary precautions. They value the office because it offers a way to separate work and life.

Days are spent on back-to-back Zoom calls, and despite constant interaction, they feel disconnected.

They miss daily social interactions with their colleagues — a major reason they come to the office. Relationships and their support system at work make it easier to navigate challenges.

Who are you most comfortable venting to when you're stressed?

Photo / 123RF

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