Post Pandemic: The Scramble For A Revolutionized Future Work Place
Picturing the future can be mixed feelings of hope, anxiety, despondency and optimism especially when your habitual way of doing things is rudely interrupted for good by an ominous ‘visitor’– COVID-19 pandemic, which hopes to extend its stay much longer. The light at the end of the labyrinthine tunnel is one of certainty as no pandemic, which has faithfully invaded the world with its presence on this earth, has had a definite and permanent place of abode.
Just like the others, the COVID-19 pandemic will be referred to as a past event which at a point in time caused global havoc and took centre stage in the affairs of men. Be that as it may, what it has indefinitely revealed to us is that the permanent part of the pandemic, things will never be the same again and it doesn’t just rest with human interaction. Organizations were starkly affected by the devastations caused by the virus and as a requisite measure, leaders and CEOs in firms had to quickly think on their feet and hasten their recovery tactics on what was left saving. Quickly, they had to reimagine new ways of interacting with their customers and client and by extension, the employees who deliver these products and services.
Proactively, when lockdown measures were instituted with movement practically halted, production and productivity simmered down and organizations had more to deal with than the health crisis ravaging economies. One significant decision leaders in organizations did was to implement a relatively non-traditional way of conducting work, particularly in Africa. The adoption of remote working globally became the game changer, albeit initially, there were some apprehensions over the effectiveness of staff who may not be effective due to the relaxed and often unsupervised deliverables from employees. However, time has proven this ‘leap of faith’ a commendable move by all standards.
Remotely ‘Gifted’ Employees
The pandemic has certainly given employees the tensile strength to yet again prove their versatility when it comes to delivering under any circumstance with significant outcomes. According to reports from the Limeade Institute’s Employee Care Report, there is a permanent clarity on the effectiveness of work and that, remote work has left an impression. The report revealed that 100% of formerly onsite workers said they’re anxious about returning to the office, 71% said they were concerned about less flexibility and 77% said they’re worried about exposure to Covid-19. Similarly, FlexJobs, a job search site, conducted a survey on respondents who worked remotely during the pandemic from March 17, 2021 through April 5, 2021. Per its investigation, it found out that, not only do employees want remote work post-pandemic, 58% say they would certainly consider a different alternative to their current job if they weren’t permitted to continue working remotely in their current position. Additionally, some 65% also demand to work remotely full-time post-pandemic with another 33% of respondents preferring a hybrid work arrangement.
Among the prioritised concerns of ‘make a comeback’ to the physical office environment include Covid-19 exposure, less work flexibility and worse work-life balance. People’s preferences for remote work became even more telling when 55% of respondents witnessed an increase in productivity via remote working, although, some 33% insisted it didn’t cause so much a dent in their productivity rating. Also, about 30% reminisced that their ability to collaborate with others have significantly skyrocketed predominantly in a virtual environment when contrasted to a brick-and-mortar office.
While some got the kick out of working in more comfortable clothing with flexible work schedule, others also took the opportunity to engage in one professional development training during the pandemic. Having tasted such freedom in work and still attain productivity and successes in their designated positions, it will be difficult to have employees once again reset to a more confined and repetitive way of working, as some have an office space setup in their homes and made all the necessary ‘work life’ change to their home space.
Convergence Between The Old And New (Hybrid)
Despite the notorious traction birth with ‘advent’ of remote working and its impact on both the employees and employers with undeniable proofs in the organization, there are some employers who still haven’t been completely weaned off having to see employees’ faces bright and early in cubicles. In navigating through the disruption brought on by the pandemic, management likewise has to bear the brunt captaining their companies through this interruption. Without a choice, it will be dependent on them to determine how and when to start the complex task of striking the right balance to ensure employees are not disadvantaged or unhappy by an unpopular decision they take. These leaders, with slow change system, prefer a hybrid of remote and conventional work from staff. For them, the mere fact that you see people on zoom does not mean you connect in any way with them. A hybrid may have to be the new status quo for global leaders because traditional work priorities have also been deeply challenged during the pandemic. Employees cite work-life balance as more important than securing a comfortable salary. They also noted that living consciously and healthily is as important as finding purpose in their jobs.
The Global Human Experience survey, conducted by JLL, of over 2,000 global office workers, found out that, the current crisis is compelling companies to decouple traditional work and work styles from the corporate office, and 66% of employees expect to work in a hybrid model post-pandemic.
Companies like PwC, Microsoft and IBM are hedging their bets on long-term hybrid work models to satisfy employee demands for flexibility. That being established it is also critical to note that ensuring the mental health and wellness is essential in pacifying new workforce priorities in the office of the future. Employees are eager to maintain the flexibility of widespread remote work established during the pandemic and are interested in working from home, an average of two days per week. This hybrid approach is the most sought after, with nearly three-quarters of employees wanting to have access to an office.
Furthermore, JLL’s earlier Human Performance report suggests that 80 percent of high performers have missed their office greatly during lockdown.
The Future Of Work
Truly, one major way we can predict the future of work is to understand people’s remote work experiences since the pandemic commenced. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report, as automation and the coronavirus redefine work suggests that, the world is facing a "double-disruption" scenario as employees are leaning more to a remote or ‘pseudo remote’ way of working in the form of a hybrid. Certainty is tossed out of any future equation when assessing and realizing some form of definiteness in global matters and the COVID-19 pandemic and others before will continually prove that.
The future of work is defined and its definition is hinged on dynamism in intents and organizational culture. Experts are of the opinion that, the future of work may look and sound different, with “offices redesigned as collaboration spaces and quieter, as employees split time between work and home. And, new technology will have some workers in roles they didn’t expect to fill”.
That notwithstanding, with more warmth and good-naturedness displayed by employers, they can transition their employees into a future of work that will support their physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Meanwhile, new technology that may arrive sooner than expected may prove to be a benefit to productivity and career development.
In the midst of all this, technology has subtly played a significant role in the interplay between employers and employees in realizing their projected goal. The outcome from the pandemic will not only rearranged work habits, contrarily, it is bound to spur the demand for technology that many employers didn’t expect they required for several years. The eruption of technological adoption has left some worried that machines could render obsolete those jobs traditionally performed by people, while others point out that digital revolution has brought with it new job opportunities and higher levels of productivity.
Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath will be one of the biggest business challenges of our time. Keeping operations going while lessening the risk to employees, have ensnared most companies to adopt and adapt to new ways of working. This move has led to most offices, factories and other facilities being practically uninhabited. Despite the obvious truths, the reality of work still ongoing, cannot be underestimated but appreciated, especially as the overlapping display of unity from various entities continuously prove the strength in numbers and unification of purpose.