Out of Office? Aussies encouraged to reclaim their home after a turbulent 2021

3 December 2021
  • Following lockdowns and office closures, the majority of Australians (89%) are ‘over this year’, describing 2021 as challenging (48%), a rollercoaster (43%) and taxing on their mental health (32%)
  • New Allianz research has revealed nearly three-quarters (72%) of Australians say they are stressed about the festive season after working a hard year
  • 2 in 5 Australians (41%) admit that switching off is becoming increasingly difficult as the line between home and work life has become blurred
  • To help Australians reclaim their home this holiday season, Allianz has partnered with interior stylist Gina Ciancio of Style Curator, to help transform the home office space

After a challenging two years filled with constant change, lockdowns, restrictions and office closures, there has been very little differentiation between work and home life, with the line between both worlds becoming blurred. New research from Allianz Australia reveals 89 per cent of Australians are ‘over this year’ and are ready for the summer break, yet 2 in 5 people won't be able to switch off as their home has turned into their home office (41 per cent).

When thinking about the last 12 months, Australians describe the year as a ‘rollercoaster’ (43 per cent), taxing on their mental health (32 per cent) and ‘lacked work-life balance’ (20 per cent), with over a third (37 per cent) admitting they were unhappy that their office space was in a communal part of their home. From working in their spare bedroom (31 per cent), kitchen table (6 per cent) or in their lounge room (9 per cent), Australians agree, it is time to switch off and prioritise their personal lives (57 per cent).

Despite the desire to take a break over the summer holidays, Australians openly admit they are not making the conscious effort to pack down their desks (71 per cent) or turn off their notifications (61 per cent) – making it near impossible to properly log off. As a result, it is no surprise choosing to not mentally and physically switch off has left nearly three quarters (71 per cent) stressed out about the upcoming holidays.

With nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of Australians looking to improve their home office set-up and two-thirds (65 per cent) wishing it was better suited to their work and personal needs, Allianz has partnered with interior stylist Gina Ciancio of Style Curator to help Aussies transform their home back into a safe haven this holiday season.

Gina Ciancio said, “Whether you’ve been working from your kitchen bench, dining table, bedroom or study, there are simple updates that can be made to reinvigorate your space ahead of the New Year. Amidst the celebrations with family and friends, this is also a great time to reflect on what did and didn’t work for you in your space, and look at small ways to improve this, such as decluttering old files, considering new storage solutions and even returning the room to its original intention.”

Prior to the pandemic, the home was a sanctuary where Aussies could switch off from the pressures of work and check in to our personal lives - yet after a year of various challenges (48 per cent), burn out (27 per cent) and a lack of work-life balance (20 per cent), over half the nation (57 per cent) are ready to switch off from work and prioritise their personal life.

Clinical psychologist Jaimie Bloch said, “2021 has been full of curveballs and taxing on the mental health of employees and employers around Australia. The end of the year marks a moment to reset, restore and recover some balance, and a great way of doing this is by turning your home office back into your home. Working from the bedroom or dining room table can cause the lines between work and personal life to blur and it’s important Aussies use the summer break as a time to recharge and create mentally healthy workspaces for the new year.”

The research from Allianz went on to reveal Australians have mixed feelings towards what the New Year holds. While Aussies are looking forward to returning to ‘normal life’ (52 per cent) and having the choice to work in the office or remotely (44 per cent), their main concerns are around work-life balance slipping in priority (22 per cent), the home office suffering (12 per cent) and commuting to work (10 per cent).

Julie Mitchell, Chief General Manager, Personal Injury, Allianz Australia said, “At Allianz, we are encouraging Australians to use this holiday season to reclaim their homes by creating mentally healthy working spaces. Amongst reconnecting with family and friends, and getting some much needed down time after the year that was, it’s also essential to prioritise reflection and looking to how we can start the New Year in the best place possible. And with most Australians continuing to work from home, our home offices are a perfect place to start.”

Gina Ciancio’s tips on how to reclaim your home and reinvigorate your home office:

  • In your study:
    • Declutter any paper or items that you no longer need. Clean up your desk space and try to be minimalistic with desk items and decorations.
    • Consider a new colour palette within your study. This subtle change can help with our mental state, including our thinking and creativity.
    • Storage solutions are your friend! Check out some homeware stores to get inspiration for new storage solutions and to see what’s possible.
  • In your dining room:
    • Create a positive connection to nature. From plants and cut flowers to crystals, all can bring an extra element of energy and vibrancy into your dining room.
    • Bring back the personal and homey touches. Add some new photos from the past year, or display objects that are meaningful to you.
  • In your bedroom:
    • If you’ve been working from your bedroom, refresh your space with a new bedspread set or add some extra feature pillows.
    • Add an extra element of calm into your bedroom. Having essential oils or incense in this room also can help create a sanctuary away from work.

Jaimie Bloch’s tips on how to switch off and rest this holiday season:

  • Set expectations: Before heading off on break, chat with your team on expectations around work and communication during the holiday period. It’s important to understand what works for everyone and who may be available if and when required.
  • Turn off work notifications: After a year of constantly being alert and available, it can be difficult to break the habit. When you are on holidays/break from work it is important to switch off all work communication platforms, especially on your phone. This can help you focus on resetting and relaxing without the distractions or pressure of work.
  • Consider ways to consciously switch off: While it sounds simple, switching off and relaxing can be hard. Throughout the break, try to implement time throughout the day that is dedicated to switching off. This can look like technology free mornings or no phone zones when with the children, going on long walks or practicing meditation or yoga.
  • Plan your holidays: Try to make the most of your break and schedule activities that you love or have been meaning to do. For example, organising a catch up with an old friend or a day trip to the beach.
  • Reflect on the past year: The festive break is the perfect time to re-evaluate what was working and what didn’t work over the last year. Spending time looking back at the year that was and developing some flexible goals for the year to come around your health, mental well-being and values is a great way to set yourself up for success. Whether it’s dedicating more time to your emotional and mental well-being through morning walks or daily self-care during the work day or relooking at your home office set up, creating a flexible plan that is adaptable will help you feel prepared and relaxed moving into the new year.
The research was commissioned by Allianz and conducted by PureProfile in accordance with the ISO 20252:2019 standard. The survey is a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians and was carried out online between 5–10 November 2021.
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