The post-COVID workplace: are (unhealthy) offices at risk of extinction?

The pandemic forced workers to experience the good, the bad and the ugly of working away from offices – and the evidence indicates most are finding it difficult to revert to pre-COVID working arrangements.

The post-COVID workplace: are (unhealthy) offices at risk of extinction?
Under the current “living with COVID” stage in the pandemic, there are mounting pressures to bring workers back to CBDs which leaves managers with the task of reconciling what workers want while balancing organisational and cultural aspects of workplaces. Studies show that eight in ten workers would like to have access to flexible ways of working for at least 1 day per week, with seven in ten workers preferred to work from home 2-3 days a week post-COVID. The top five benefits from remote working as pointed-out by Australian workers were not having to commute to/from HQ, more time with family, ability to perform more focused work, work life balance and less stress at the start of working day (Marzban et al, 2021). Further, workers also reported significant challenges from internet connectivity, dissatisfaction with furniture ergonomics or set-up and the associated musculoskeletal issues (Widianawati et al., 2020, Marzban et al., 2021), increased stress and burn-out, isolation from colleagues and inability to establish a consistent routine and set a clear boundary between work and home lives (ACS, 2020). Despite the clear benefits to workers in the short-term, the likely impact on organisational culture, productivity and health (physical and mental) while working away from HQ for a sustained period of time is yet to be quantified. Further, balancing work from HQ with elsewhere can be challenging for some sectros, including tertiary education, creative arts, etc due to demand for in person interactions. Through case studies, this pilot study will identify and quantify negative and positive impacts on workers’ productivity, perceived health (physical and mental) and wellbeing from the adoption of hybrid work practices, including considerations to when, where and how work is performed at office and elsewhere during the current living with COVID stage.

Project details

Project team

A/Prof Christhina Candido

Dr Samin Marzban

Ms Iva Durakovic

Ms Sarah backhouse

Mr Jordan Smith

Ms Cida Ghosn

Key contact

A/Prof Christhina Candido


Led by University of Melbourne in collaboration with University of New South Wales