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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.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Over 3,000 detained in protests across Russia demanding Navalny's release

Russian police officers beat protestesters at a rally against of jailing of oppositon leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow on Saturday. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Police in Russia on Saturday arrested more than 3,300 people as protesters nationwide demanded that opposition leader Alexey Navalny be released from jail.

Details: Demonstrations began in the eastern regions of Russia and spread west to more than 60 cities.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Arizona Republicans censure Cindy McCain and GOP governor

Combination images of Cindy McCain and Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Arizona Republican Party members voted on Saturday to censure prominent GOP figures Cindy McCain, Gov. Doug Ducey and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who've all faced clashes with former President Trump.

Why it matters: Although the resolution is symbolic, this move plus the re-election of the Trump-endorsed Kelli Ward as state GOP chair shows the strong hold the former president has on the party in Arizona, despite President Biden winning the state in the 2020 election.