COVID-19 has forced us to participate in an unprecedented remote working experiment on a global scale. We have experienced worldwide job losses, huge transport infrastructure concerns and a continuing need to install workplace social distancing measures… important considerations for government and businesses launching back-to-work plans. The once indispensable corporate offices are actively being released, a clear indication that not everyone will be returning to the office on a full-time basis.
So what workplace trends have evolved, that will shape the future of how we work post COVID-19?
Most UK workers traditionally spent more than a year of their lives travelling to and from their place of work. Unsurprisingly, general consensus views the demise of the commute as a welcome consequence of working from home.
In order to maintain social distancing on public transport, working hours in offices are likely to be staggered and a hybrid strategy of WFH for part of the week adopted.
Email response etiquette.
It is vital that there remains a clear separation between work and leisure time. A work culture that consistently expects immediate out of hours answering of emails, often perpetuates stress and burnout.
The acceptance of work flexibility should not lead to the expectation that people are available 24/7.
Zoom calls will remain an important tool for communication. However, research has shown video calls to be more draining than in-person meetings.
They are not necessarily appropriate for all meetings and there is a definite shift back towards phone calls; thought to be more fluid and spontaneous in their delivery.
Co-working spaces were on a projected 40% increase worldwide even prior the onset of the pandemic. The flexibility of remote working is counterbalanced by the boost in productivity that is seen in a shared working environment.
Local co-working spaces should have the capacity to both expand and thrive in ‘new normal’ living. We are already seeing pubs across the country offering a new ‘pub desk’ service.
Could more of us adopt extreme remote working lifestyles in the future? The utopian image of balancing a laptop whilst on a sun lounger situated on an exotic beach could become a reality.
Certainly current urban migration trends indicate a desire to escape city living that is devoid of it’s previous nightlife and cultural benefits.
As employers implement the return of their employees back to offices, leadership teams need to be fully confident that the workplace is both productive and safe. Organisations have the opportunity to break with outdated habits and systems, using this time to positively reinvent their role.
Ultimately, the future of our workplace needs to be focused around a safe environment that supports the mental well being of their staff and enables them to collaborate productively with their colleagues in order to achieve the best output for the organisation.