It is almost one year since our “normal” was turned upside down when COVID-19 hit us.
It has been a challenging year which has impacted our lives and businesses. Companies had to quickly adapt to something very few were prepared for. Our usual routines turned into a distant memory and half of the UK workforce were then working from home. Sharing their homes with colleagues, parents working around childcare, and the lines between work and life getting blurred. On the flip side, we were able to use the ‘commuting time’ to have a better work/life balance and many joined the infamous couch to 5k club.
We now have an end in sight, many business leaders are now planning - what is next? Is the future of the workplace to remain working remotely (for those that can) and perhaps decrease office space? Are we returning to the office and forget that people pulled through this challenging year? Or is it a hybrid approach? There is no right or wrong answer, and it would very much depend on business needs and employees’ circumstances.
CIPD research from January 2021, shows that before the Covid crisis, 18% of the workforce was working from home on a regular basis. However, post crisis figure is expected to rise to 37%, and almost half of the UK businesses now are considering a hybrid approach to work.
Many are now longing for some time back in the workplace, as others are enjoying some of the flexibility of working from home. Some of the hygiene factors (hello Maslow) also need to be met to allow employees to be able to work from home. Good broadband, childcare provisions and so on. Working from home can be done and it has been proved in the past year, but what about those light touch “water cooler” chats? So much can be learned by the general interactions in the workplace, and many are missing the human connection.
The time we have now is an opportunity for companies to consider how (or if) our old ways of working can be improved, considering how flexibility can help to retain and attract talent. Many different groups have been impacted by this pandemic, so as we plan how to move forward, it is important to consider the different demographics and their needs. Can companies offer more flexibility such as job shares or compressed hours, to name some?
No one size fits all and there are many factors to consider when leaders are planning how they will operate post Covid crisis, but the opportunity to make a positive change is here, let’s embrace it!