The Covid 19 global pandemic has created far-reaching effects on many aspects of our daily lives. While it has primarily made us think of our health and safety, it has also created ripple effects that have changed–probably permanently–our way of life. One of these is the state of work.
The pandemic and the response of many governments to impose quarantines of various levels of strictness have forced companies and businesses to adapt. This meant ensuring business continuity by imposing telecommuting or total work-at-home arrangements.
These arrangements have totally upended how we view work and productivity.
A survey conducted by Slack has been quite eye-opening. According to the survey, of the 9,000 knowledge workers located in six different countries, almost 72 percent prefer a hybrid working arrangement, mixing remote and office work.
This is a huge departure from the 9-to-5 work paradigm that has been in existence for decades. A system that has become apparent is not reflective of what is effective or what workers and companies need.
But while the prevailing sentiment is that workers prefer a new hybrid work arrangement, some countries are doing well compared to others in implementing this scheme. In that same study, it was shown that the US and the UK had more workers on a work-at-home arrangement. This was the reverse in countries like France, Germany, and Japan, where more workers reported that they have been working in the office.
These differences in working arrangements in various countries can likely be based on several factors, most notably their level of effectiveness in dealing with the Covid 19 outbreak and the prevailing cultural views on working at home. Evidence of this is Japanese workers’ perception that their work can only be done within their office environment and that work-at-home arrangements are detrimental to productivity.
The Benefits of the new work paradigm
Companies and top executives are now realizing that the work-at-home and hybrid work arrangements can actually contribute many benefits to the organization as a whole. This realization is predicted to change certain aspects of how we think of work permanently. For this reason, it is a good idea for organizations that plan to permanently include flexible work policies in their organization to look for a quality workforce management provider that can supply a platform that addresses the specific needs of the organization.
The world is slowly going back to normal, what with the rollout of vaccines in many countries. But it looks like the new work paradigms have forever been altered.
The ability of the companies to adapt to change
The pandemic has forced companies to suddenly and drastically change policies. And they realized that it is not as hard as they once thought. The change in work dynamics from 9-to-5 in the office to flexible work schedules with minor disruptions, if at all, has made bosses conclude that corporate thinking is much more dynamic than they initially thought.
Realizing that productivity will not be affected by these new work arrangements can only mean two things. Companies should now permanently include flexible work arrangements as part of their corporate policy. And workers will demand these arrangements more in the future. In fact, a recently concluded Gallup survey showed that 54 percent of workers would leave their present jobs for one that will offer them work time flexibility.
Fortunately, managing a workforce has become easier even with the introduction of work-at-home and hybrid work paradigms. A big contributor to easier team or work organization management is robust workforce management systems (WMS).
These workforce management systems allow organizations to more dynamically manage teams by automating many functions like time management, work shift scheduling, task management, and even team collaboration. Of course, the effectiveness of these systems is dependent on how well-built these systems are.
Homes equipped for productivity
One of the challenges that became immediately apparent when companies announced work-at-home arrangements is that many workers are not equipped to work from their homes. Many do not have a dedicated space to work or, more ideally, a home office. We’ve all heard or read about the amusing stories about workers who encounter embarrassing situations while in the middle of a Zoom meeting – pets photobombing meetings, toddlers screaming, or even more compromising incidents. GetApp, in its report, revealed that not having a conducive area for work and shortcomings in technology is cited by workers as an obstacle to their productivity.
As businesses and organizations realize that providing their workers with the optimal conditions for work will benefit them in the long term. This will result in more and more organizations implementing an increasingly popular policy of giving workers an allowance or benefits so they can create a comfortable work area in their homes.
The rise of video conferencing
We’ve seen the importance of video conferencing and video meetings during the height of the pandemic. Zoom became an overnight sensation and became the de-facto platform of choice for virtual meetings. As work-at-home and hybrid work arrangements become more popular, the video will continue to mature as an essential productivity tool for organizations.
Video will transcend its present importance as a communication tool for teams to meet and collaborate. Still, it will also evolve to replace the relationship-building dynamics of the water cooler talk and hanging out with colleagues. Such interpersonal communication gives workers a break from serious “shop talk.” It is what is sorely lacking at present, and it is most often cited as one thing that workers miss about the old work-from-the-office setup.
Opportunities to learn
Being able to work from home has resulted in many workers enjoying more time to themselves. By eliminating the grind of commuting to the office, workers have been able to reclaim more time. Many are now using this opportunity to learn. A rising trend now involves workers who are taking up courses and seminars online to enrich themselves further. E-learning will become more popular and will even be embraced by organizations as an added perk that they can give to their employees.
Navigating the new realities of work as we slowly transition to a post-Covid 19 world will mean embracing new ways of viewing productivity. The most agile organizations that adapt to this new world will be the ones that will gain success in the future.