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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Oct 21, 2020 - Economy & Business

Coronavirus pandemic postpones jobs of the future

Data: Cognizant; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Many of the digital jobs of the future have suffered during the later stages of the pandemic, while in-person health care jobs are on the rise.

Why it matters: Automation and digitization will profoundly change the U.S. labor market, but that future has been delayed as COVID-19 forces companies to shift into survival mode.

Pence to continue traveling despite aides testing positive for COVID-19

Marc Short with Pence in March. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, tested positive for the coronavirus Saturday and is quarantining, according to a White House statement.

Why it matters: Short is Pence's closest aide, and was one of the most powerful forces on the White House coronavirus task force. Pence and second lady Karen Pence tested negative for the virus on Sunday morning, according to the vice president's office.

AOC: "Extremely important" that Biden offer Bernie Sanders a Cabinet position

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that she believes it's "extremely important" that Joe Biden offer Sen. Bernie Sanders and other progressive leaders Cabinet positions if he's elected president.

The big picture: Ocasio-Cortez was pressed repeatedly on policy differences between her and the more moderate Biden, including her opposition to fracking and support for Medicare for All. She responded that it would be a "privilege" and a "luxury" to be able to lobby a Biden administration on progressive issues, insisting that the focus right now should be on winning the White House.