The pandemic has eased. People are free to move about, and business has resumed once more. But is the workplace the same as we’ve always known it? How has the pandemic affected work environments, and what can we expect in the near future?
To the first question, it’s a resounding NO. To the second, A LOT!
The pandemic has emphasised certain workplace trends that have been in the shadows for quite some time. These include:
You see, while governments placed lockdown measures at the peak of Covid-19 in 2020, businesses had to send their employees home. Soon after, many companies realised they could offer their services from home without ever having to meet in an office. Teams collaborated virtually, and the Zoom app grew very popular. We also had more and more consumers shopping online for groceries, medications, and other supplies, making it all easier and convenient to not leave the comforts of your own home.
During that time, employees who worked from home realised the flexibility and freedom this nature of work offered them. In fact, 70% of employees say that being allowed to work from home for at least some days weekly is a major factor in choosing their next job.
What does that mean? For companies to attract the best talents, they must keep employees happy, which involves having a flexible working schedule. Interestingly, 72% of executives claim that their organisations are already working towards a remote-working model. This post-pandemic workplace trend is already evident but is yet to go full-blown.
According to Mckinsey Global Institute, about 22% of US jobs could be done remotely for about 3-5 days a week post-Covid, while 17% could be done remotely 1-3 days without any drop in productivity. That means about 39% of organisations can work remotely for some part of the week. That is a major leap from where we were a few years ago. Don’t think anyone thought this was ever going to happen!
The rise and fall in employment rate in certain industries is a critical workplace trend we can expect shortly. Work-from-home arrangements will shrink the need for business travel as most of these conferences can be conducted live online. Unfortunately, this will be unfavourable to airlines, hotels and other businesses that thrive on business travels. Employees in such organisations may have to reskill as they search for other opportunities.
Also, the need for administrative staff would drop since virtual offices would be the post-pandemic normal. On the other hand, employment for virtual assistants, third-party supply chains, and offshore staff would rise.
If you’re a business executive looking to create an employee-friendly workplace post-pandemic, here are ways to go. This could also be something employees should look for or negotiate as we all head back into the office.
As your employees return to the office to connect with other colleagues once more, a part of them would crave the flexibility of remote work. Talk about ditching the laptop for a minute to play with their pet or facetime with a friend.
It would be great if managers could put structures in place to allow employees such opportunities even while in the office. It can be an excellent way to breathe, unwind, and become more productive.
While working from home is highly sought after, it may not be all milk and honey as we have always thought. The risks of loneliness increase as employees detract from their social time to get more work done. A total work-from-home environment can be terrible and lead to poor mental health while increasing employee burnout.
Perhaps, having honest conversations with each employee can be key to mitigating this risk. Ask about how the environment has changed them and how they would like to work, and never push them to do too much. Let them know it’s fine to take a break and catch up on life.
Here are some suggestions for creating meaningful, honest conversations with your team:
Remote work and physical operations have their pros and cons. Rather than going permanently remote, consider also collaborating as a team a few days a week. This will allow the entire organisation to get the best of both worlds. There will bring less loneliness, more social interaction, and more flexibility to the workplace post-Covid.
As we all head back into the workplace, it’s important for employers to consider supporting employees through this transition and explore workplace coaching. This approach will inadvertently help employees to adapt and figure out a good work-life balance that best fits for themselves as well as the company.
Being prepared for these post-pandemic workplace trends will be critical to company success in the coming years. From attracting great talents to promoting efficiency, business executives must create the right environments to get the best from their employees.
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