As we can all imagine, this new way of work isn't exactly what we envisioned when we started off 2020. Handshakes were second nature to us, visiting colleagues desks for a chat was the norm and doing the coffee round seems like a distant memory. It's crazy to think how many small elements of our day to day lives are going to change dramatically, especially within the workplace, and how long these new traditions will last, if not forever!
We explore a few ways in which work will ultimately change due to the recent outbreak, whether that may impose new challenges for companies or welcome more positive and productive ways of working.
Now that more people are working from home and have adapted to their new working environment, it can be predicted that a lot of organisations will continue to adopt this dynamic even after we have overcome the current uncertainty of Covid-19. This certainly offers employees the chance to enjoy more freedom to work where they feel most comfortable, flexibility for parents or carers and of course more time for themselves without the need to commute.
There have even been discussions regarding hybrid working models, allowing those who prefer to work from home to do so, whilst others who would ideally like to revert back an office environment have that option. This is an excellent practice to help support the new regulations that are being adopted in offices, such as ensuring a reasonable distance between office desks, fewer employees being able to attend large meetings and so much more, that would have been tough to alter with maximum office capacity.
If you weren't tech-savvy before, there's a high chance you are now! Due to most of us setting up our new office at home for the past few months, we had no choice but to step out of our comfort zone and learn about all things digital. The scope of technology is astounding and there are many more practices available than we think, allowing us to dive into new digital software and hardware. And now that everyone has had the chance to get familiar with digital practices, engaging with people quickly via computer or phone will be even easier, wherever you may be.
The main concern about technology advancements is the cost to employers. Whether employees are working from home or in the office, these new traditions bring in great demand for new technology such as video conferencing equipment or lightweight hardware for remote workers. It also imposes a further threat to certain roles, in which technology growth could replace jobs that are easily performed with the aid of digital advancements.
For some time to come, face-to-face meetings will be a thing of the past due to the dangers of being in close proximity to someone not in your household. For many of us, this will be no surprise and in fact, there are many advantages to this. Firstly, frequent business travel will decrease, ultimately bringing down the cost of monthly expenses for petrol and train tickets. Employees time will also not be taken up by travelling to and from different meetings, allowing more time to continue with important projects or the usual day to day responsibilities.
Although it might be easier for meetings to be conducted face-to-face, the past few months have taught us how to properly use video conferencing tools, schedule meetings online and even screen share, making it just as simple to hold a meeting wherever you may be. However, when conducting virtual meetings, it can be easy to lose that interpersonal interaction and develop some misunderstandings, especially within a large group. These downfalls of virtual meetings may be overcome the more we use video platforms, although still begs the question if organisations will be able to carry on with this new format or if meeting in person will eventually come back around.
The current situation has brought many changes to the way we work and one of them has been the connection and relationship between our colleagues. It seems like a lifetime ago that we were all going about our normal routine, socialising at lunchtime and having a chat by the kettle during the coffee run! Although working from home has allowed companies to utilise video calls and instant messaging, it's still easy to feel slightly distant from your team after seeing them nearly every day of the week, to not at all.
However, thanks to digital practices, it is now a lot simpler to boost colleague interaction. In fact, you may even feel more connected to your team now than before, with many employers encouraging regular catch-ups via video call and diverting those quick desk chats towards quick instant messaging to keep everyone collaborating as normal. Once the world goes back to somewhat normal, employees could be closer than ever due to the lack of social interaction we've all been facing over the past few months.
Mental and physical wellbeing
These strange, unprecedented and challenging times have unfortunately welcomed many issues regarding mental and physical health, from being cooped up in our homes for longer than expected and receiving a lack of social interaction. And with Mental Health Awareness week falling on one of our lockdown weeks, the importance of employee wellbeing has been heightened, increasing the need for companies to help and support the workforce.
Many companies have suffered due to the effects of Covid-19, increasing the importance of retaining top talent and ultimately emphasising the priority of maintaining a healthy and highly appreciated team. Creating a positive working environment and focus on more collaborative teams, combined with a healthy work-life balance and offering more personal and professional development are just a few practices organisations can implement to ensure an effective and healthy workforce.
Of course, the future of work will depend on your industry, employer preferences and most importantly your job type. Not all workers can adapt to remote working, less frequent business travel and reduced face to face meetings. Therefore it still begs the question, what is the real future of work and how many elements will 'go back to normal'?