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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most Americans want the telework trend to continue after the pandemic, but there's a lingering problem that companies haven't been able to solve: working at home is isolating.

Why it matters: A sense of belonging at work is becoming increasingly important to workers — and employers who figure out how to build that into the hybrid work culture of the future will have a critical advantage when recruiting and retaining talent.

  • That's a key takeaway from Slack's inaugural index of remote work as part of the company's new Future Forum.
  • Slack surveyed 4,700 teleworkers across the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Japan and Australia. The consensus was that working remotely has greatly improved work-life balance but increased isolation.

"Stress levels are down, and productivity is up," says Brian Elliott, VP of the Future Forum. "Sense of belonging is where, on average, the challenge is greatest."

  • The index assigns points to each sentiment, and while work-life balance and productivity are up 25.7 and 10.7 points, respectively, belonging is down 5.
  • And contrary to what managers might think, more Zoom meetings is not the answer. Workers who attended regular catch-up meetings actually reported lower scores on sense of belonging (–2.7) than those who received updates through emails or messages (+5.8).
  • "Cramming people's days with status check-in meetings make it worse," Elliott says.

Slack's data also shows the extent to which the pandemic has changed America's attitudes about work.

  • Only around 12% of people want to go back to the office full time, and only around 11% want to stay home forever. The rest want some sort of mix.
  • Flashback: Before the pandemic, less than 4% of American employees worked from home full time.

Go deeper

Dec 8, 2020 - Axios Events

Most employers didn't pay furloughed workers' health care premiums

Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

When the coronavirus forced businesses to tell their employees not to work, most kept paying at least some of those workers' wages — but not their health insurance premiums.

Why it matters: Millions of people have lost their income and their health care coverage at the same time during this pandemic, which could stick them with unaffordable medical bills or cause them to put off care they need.

4 hours ago - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Covid forever

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was 563 days ago that the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by healthcare reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at our Covid future.

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.