The pandemic has disrupted our world in many ways. It’s changed how we socialize, our routines, our family life, and it’s forever changed the working & business landscape.
The office culture, commuting, and the typical 9-5 has (in some industries) been turned upside down and more and more businesses & employees have had to change the way they operate post pandemic. Some of these shifts have been positive steps toward a better work/life balance. But there is more to it than just working from home that affects workers and business leaders. The changes that have unfolded may continue even after the health crisis is over. So what does that mean for the future of work and business?
Businesses that already had remote workers in place before the pandemic, will most likely continue that way of business once the pandemic is over. But for those who never had a work-from-home option, studies show that more and more employees want the flexibility to work remotely. There is also a high percentage of employees who would like the option of both in-person and remote work to be available.
Both employees and business leaders have recognized that productivity can remain optimal from a remote setting. Setting the stage for a likelihood of a permanent transition of some employees from an office environment to work-from-home.
This can be a win-win scenario for both businesses and employees. The business can save on overhead costs of not having on-site employees. And the employees save with no commute times, wardrobe expenses, lunch costs, etc… and more time available to spend at home with family.
More and more employees are recognizing the value of remote work and are expecting to have this option available to them from their current employer or a new prospective company.
Finding new talent has also changed with the adoption of remote work.
Gone are the days of looking for and hiring employees within your geographic area. With remote and work-from-home becoming the norm, the choices for where to seek new candidates is almost unlimited. Now high quality, diverse talent can be found virtually anywhere.
Employees are also enjoying many more opportunities as well. Not having to live within commuting distance to work allows for securing employment with companies that may have been out of reach previously.
With these new opportunities opening for employees, many are now re-evaluating their current positions and considering transitioning to new/different employment. This poses challenges for business owners and leaders who will need to learn to adapt with flexible options for attracting new talent as well as keeping their current employees.
Productivity & Mental Health:
Working from home does have it’s advantages. Productivity seems to have remained the same or even higher since the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean all is well. There are negative impacts that remote working has on employees.
Because the lines between work and home have been blurred, it’s not as easy to leave work at work and to find balance in the workday. This gives way to a real increase in employee burn-out. There has been a rise in more online meeting requests, longer meeting times, more emails being sent, and increased time spent working on documents. This constant pressure to respond and the urgency of virtual work has left employees feeling stressed and exhausted.
It’s important for both business leaders and employees to keep this in mind and try to find balance between work and home. If productivity is put before the health and wellness of employees; motivation, engagement and eventually profits will most likely suffer.
Innovation & Creative Process:
With workers having to suddenly cut ties with face-to-face interactions and switch to online collaboration, many new innovations, organic concepts and spontaneous ideas haven’t had the opportunity to bloom.
Strong networks and inclusive workplace relationships are incredibly important to the creative process. Although there are many positive aspects of remote work, the real interacting of people in a physical work environment allows for connections that just can’t be duplicated over digital platforms. There’s no chatting in the break room or discovering common interests over lunch, or sharing an idea while walking past a coworker’s desk. These types of interactions are key to workplace innovation & creativity and are made possible when in the physical company of others.
Even though workplaces may never return to the way they once were, finding new ways to balance productivity, creativity and profitability are still possible. Part-time in office work or occasional face-to-face meetings could be a great way to support real human connections while still offering the ease of working from home.
Navigating the new business and workplace landscape may have its challenges, but embracing the positive changes are a step in the right direction. Remember that things will always be changing, and our willingness to adapt, find balance and show understanding is progress towards a new normal!
Written by Christine Graham