The New Zealand workforce has been cornered into a period of rapid change and economic shift.

Every week the NZ Herald looks at how businesses and workers have pivoted in uncertain times.

Heading back to the office after isolation might feel like a welcome return to normality for some.

But for the majority, the home office has become the new normal with thousands of New Zealanders enjoying the change.

Last week we asked readers who were working from home if they were keen to continue.

Had they loved working from home and found they were just as productive?


Did they need to be in the office to be motivated?

Or was a mix of home and office life the key?

Out of a total of 7,226 people, who voted on the NZ Herald website, only 912 people (12 percent) said they needed to be in the office to be motivated.

In comparison, nearly half of the pollsters (48percent) said they "loved" working from home and found they were just as productive as in the office.

The poll results revealed most people enjoyed working from home and wanted to continue. Graphic/NZ Herald
The poll results revealed most people enjoyed working from home and wanted to continue. Graphic/NZ Herald

A large group of those polled, 39 percent, said they would prefer a mix of home and office-based work.

Readers said they were "surprisingly productive at home" and were expecting better results and fewer distractions this week when children were back at school.

Other reported positives included extra time with family and more free time in the weekend because household chores were done during the usual weekday "commute time."

Another noticed there had been savings on petrol, parking, drinks at the pub and from not spending on cafe coffees and lunch.


Those who were keen to return to the office said they lacked equipment at home to do their job efficiently. Others were lonely or bored.

Large corporations that had the work from home model thrust upon them under level 4 lockdown said the transition had been relatively smooth. Many were reviewing business models.

Andrew Barnes, Perpetual Guardian founder and champion of the four-day week, was "not surprised at all" by the poll results.

"It is a recognition by people that they can work effectively from home and also that many people like a bit of interaction with workmates."

He expected workplaces of the future to look very different with spaces for workmates to socialise. Many businesses, he said, would keep a work from home component.

"There are many cost savings for a business in doing so, added to the increased productivity," he said.

"There is also the fact that they have already arranged the technology and systems to support their staff being away from the office."

Under level 2 businesses need to maintain social distancing at the office which meant keeping between 30 and 50 percent of staff away for now.

Vodafone had a 50 percent occupancy in offices and had banned hot-desking, chief people officer Jodie King said.

Auckland Council had a 30 percent occupancy rate and would slowly increase this in the coming weeks.

Many ASB staff would continue to work from home, or a mixture of home and work, ASB executive general manager people Robyn Worthington said.

Jodie Shelley from 2Degrees said Covid-19 had jolted the company into a new way of thinking.

"In general our people are saying they can see how working from home more will be a part of their life from now on – just without the kids or flatmates to manage," she said.

"We're looking at how we can keep the positive elements of the change we've gone through."