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Isolation and mental health lead concerns about employees during COVID-19 

Isolation combined with mental health and wellbeing are the main concerns of hiring managers and senior leaders when it comes to employees working from home.

Technology recruitment leader Talent has released its Future of Work survey results, which highligh insights from over 500 hiring managers and senior leaders into how companies are responding to COVID-19.

In Asia Pacific, 43% of those surveyed specified that isolation and mental health and wellbeing are the main concerns when it comes to employees working from home. These concerns for their employees were also reflected by the responders themselves. When asked if they personally were feeling more or less connected, 64% of responders said that they have felt less connected to their organisation or their peers since working from home. 

The research showed 89% of workforces are currently set up to work from home compared to 61% before COVID-19, which shows a 28% increase in homeworking capabilities since this crisis began. Across the board, 98% of companies specified that they are now more likely to consider facilitating homeworking on an ongoing basis.

The results clearly show the impact of COVID-19 on organisations’ hiring plans with 56% of all new hires delayed or frozen and a further 25% of businesses having reduced the number of planned hires. Small businesses look to be the most resilient in the employment space with over 30% continuing to hire normally and only 10% reducing planned hires.

Some organisations are choosing to push back start dates for new hires whilst others are embracing technology to ensure that they don’t risk losing out on the best people with 81% of companies implementing or considering virtual onboarding.

Talent founder and executive chairman Richard Earl said there were a range of encouraging and potentially alarming deductions that can be made from these results such as:

Are companies sufficiently aware of isolation and mental health issues amongst their workers?

Is the start-up sector effectively on hold based on an overwhelming hiring freeze?

Productivity does not appear to be a major concern suggesting remote employees are more autonomous than previously thought.

Short-term financial stability does not seem to be a major concern which is hopefully a sign of underlying confidence and resilience that the economy will bounce back.

Earl said that the world of work has transformed and the only way forward is to adapt.

“This research highlights the ongoing and profound impact the COVID-19 crisis is having on global workforces. Companies have had to adapt quickly to continue to operate in this new world and technology has been the key to success," he says.

"The challenge in a post COVID-19 world will be balancing the capabilities and flexibilities we have gained in the past months with the human need for interaction and connection.”

Talent Asia Pacific CEO Mark Nielsen said that organisations are focusing on their people’s health and wellbeing more than ever.

“These results indicate that companies are more concerned with the impacts of working from home on the health of their employees than they are with an individual's productivity or even the short-term financial stability of the organisation," he said.

"This is a reassuring indication that the value of people is being recognised and their health given the highest priority.

“It’s not surprising that more organisations are opening up to the idea of home working beyond COVID-19. The current crisis has shown itself to be an acid test for virtual working tools and most have passed with flying colours," said Nielsen.

"This new-found confidence in technology coupled with the possible cost savings of not having to rent a physical office space and the reduction in associated overheads and expenses is really allowing business owners to warm to this new-normal.”