Eight Lessons Employers Should Learn from the Pandemic
One thing that Covid-19 has taught us is that the differences between our personal space and our working space, our digital and lived worlds and our work and play, have become more fluid. But how will organisations capitalise on the opportunities that this presents for a better normal?
Here are eight lessons that we believe businesses should be taking from the pandemic
1. The importance of flexibility. Businesses have been able to break through the barriers that the office is a one-size-fits-all environment. Instead, there is a great opportunity for flexibility within the office space; inspiring new locations adapted for certain tasks, types of working, projects etc. These would include stand-up desks, lounge-like areas, quiet focused areas and communal space.
2. Flexibility in working location is beneficial. In a recent survey conducted by Engage Workplace 61% of respondents preferred working from home than in an office and 80% said that they felt they had developed a good work-from-home routine. The pandemic has certainly normalised the once frowned-upon working from home choice and has highlighted that this doesn’t necessarily equate to a drop in productivity or quality. There is an opportunity for a hybrid way of working, with staff having certain days in the office and others remote; a great leveler when it comes to gender parity and parental flexibility and an opportunity to be more creative with the office space when there are flexing numbers staff using it.
3. How to foster greater efficiency. Whilst 45% of respondents in the Engage Workplace survey felt they were working longer hours from home than in the office, some said that they were getting more work done in a shorter space of time because of the ability to have a quieter and more focused period of time in which to do it. This is the perfect opportunity for businesses to dedicate an area in the office to create a quiet space where people can focus, reflect and relax without interruption and distractions.
4. The future is most definitely digital. Employees are going to be expecting high-tech set ups in order to compete in the working world. Headsets, correctly positioned screens for video conferencing, good lighting and fast speed broadband. This needs to be a consideration for both office and remote working.
5. The importance of mental health and well-being. Much has been discussed during the pandemic about the effect of being isolated on our mental health. In the survey conducted by Engage Workplace, many respondents were combatting this with time dedicated to enjoying their down-time. 60% said they always made time for lunch away from their desk and 10% of them said they use their lunch break to take a walk, walk the dog or go for a run. Businesses should be re-structuring the working day in order to accommodate time for exercise. They should consider communal eating areas where employees are encouraged to step away from their desks and in certain businesses, a space dedicated to gym equipment would enhance the mental health of their employees.
6. We missed people! Whilst many people enjoyed the freedom to work from home, virtual meetings and conferencing are no substitute for in-person engagement, mentoring, collaboration and brain-storming. A real trend to emerge is the need for safe collaborative spaces; comfortable areas in which to solve problems, generate ideas and build relationships.
7. A real opportunity to rethink the design and use of the workspace. Creating a spacious and comfortable working environment is an important part of encouraging people back into the building but in turn, creating remote work spaces within local towns and city regions, instead of business parks or city commercial centres, could address the growing awareness of an employee that has not missed the long and costly commute to work. This would offer alternatives to large crowded office buildings with the freedom to work in ways that suit their needs while also meeting HQ objectives. Supporting the centralised HQ with more remote satellite offices can foster engagement and develop a network with other business’s in a thriving co-working environment and at the same time reinvigorate the local high street and community spirit!
8. Talent attraction. Businesses that act on adapting their workplace to the new way of working, with policies that their employees agree on and spaces that are designed to be vibrant, collaborative and productive, will attract the very best talent.