Do we really need an office? Is working 9-5 a thing of the past? It is too soon to say but these questions have been at the top of people’s minds since offices closed their doors and mandated employees to work from home.
That was the beginning of a significant shift from traditional workspace to remote working, a move that will go down in history as a period that changed the world of work. With the easing of restrictions and economies gradually opening, companies are now welcoming back employees to the office in a phased approach.
COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on both the human and business side of operations. We look at some of the trends reshaping the world of work as we know it.
Although the shift from office to home initially posed a challenge, employees gradually got into the work from home rhythm and embraced the flexibility that working from home afforded them. According to a Gartner poll, 48% of employees are more likely to work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 as opposed to 30% before the pandemic.
Remote working has brought a relaxation of traditional office rules and gave rise to a flexible virtual workplace. When the curve flattens, working from home popularity will prevail and companies might have to redefine strategies in efforts to provide employees with the versatile working experience they need.
Work and Life Integration
With the crisis blurring the fine lines between office and home, personal spaces have become extensions of workspaces. Employees have needed to strike a balance between the two, and companies will have to rise up to the challenges and facilitate a better work-life strategy that boosts employee productivity when we all return back to the office work space. Productivity has always been measured based on how many hours an employee spends at a workstation. As more employees embrace working from home, attitudes are shifting. Employees are figuring out ways to get work done without being confined to a 9–5 time frame.
COVID-19 has accelerated the pursuit of workplace wellness. Companies have had to find different ways to keep employees healthy and productive in this challenging time. How do employers protect employees? Promoting hygiene and socially responsible behaviour has led businesses to enforce policies that ensure COVID-19 regulations are adhered to and avoid compromising employee well-being.
We have witnessed how quickly companies went completely virtual in a short space of time once the World Health Organization deemed COVID-19 a pandemic. Businesses saw how important it is to be technologically-savvy when virtual platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams temporarily replaced physical workplaces.
From Challenge to Opportunity
Instead of seeing the crisis as a disruptor, companies can use this as an opportunity to adopt emerging technologies and set the stage for tech-enabled workplaces. Technology is allowing employees to login regardless of location and get work done along with providing workers the ability to seamlessly execute work duties as if employees are office-based. Extreme uncertainty is a breeding ground for radical change and COVID-19 has reset work trends, revolutionising how we do work.
Many might argue that after the pandemic ends, there might not be a new normal to get back to. The pandemic has tested companies’ flexibility and agility when it comes to keeping business going in the wake of a crisis. However, companies and employees have found a new normalcy that has positioned them well for success. The world around us is changing and has created a ripple effect that is impacting workplaces. Businesses now need to consider innovating workplace processes and prepare for the future of work.