The pandemic has been with us for over a year. With the increase in the vaccination roll out across various countries, many business organisations are looking at the post-pandemic future and how they will operate in this future. Research is indicating that many organisations are planning a hybrid virtual model that combines remote work with time in the office.
It seems that this decision is being based on the solid productivity increases during the pandemic. However , while productivity may have gone up, many employees report feeling anxious and burned out. This means that business leaders need to address the sources of employee anxiety, as otherwise any productivity gains will prove to be unsustainable in the future, since anxiety is known to reduce job satisfaction, negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues and decrease work performance.
Recent research is indicating that one major source of anxiety is that employees feel they’ve yet to hear enough about their employers’ plans for post-COVID-19 working arrangements, backed by detailed guidelines, policies, expectations and approaches. And the lack of remote-relevant specifics is leaving employees anxious.
I believe that at this point it would be useful to see what international research is outlining with regards what employees want from the future of work.
- Employees want flexibility. Research indicates that more than half of employees would like their organisations to adopt more flexible hybrid virtual-working models, in which employees are sometimes on-premises and sometimes working remotely. A hybrid model can help organizations make the most of talent wherever it resides, lower costs and strengthen organisational performance.
- Talent at risk. Research indicates that just over 25% of employees would consider switching employers if their organisation returned to fully working from the office. Of course, even employees who say they might depart could ultimately decide to remain, depending on the policies companies end up adopting, the availability of jobs at the same or better rates of pay. However this is an indication that the availability of otherwise of a hybrid model could become a consideration for employees when choosing an employer.
- Staying home. Research indicates that in Europe, just over 40% of employees prefer to work from home some 2 – 3 days per week, with 24% preferring to work from the office all the time and 25% preferring to work from home all the time.
- Parents. Research indicates that employees with young children are the most likely to prefer flexible work arrangements, whilst employees without children under 18 are nearly three times as likely to prefer working from the office, but the majority still prefer more flexible models.
- Hopes and fears. Across the board, research indicates that employees hope to see organisations put a greater emphasis on flexibility and their well-being once the pandemic is over. Employees seem to be caught between the fear that working from an office will lead to a greater chance of them getting sick and the fear that remote work will reduce community and collaboration between colleagues.
- Policy and Guidelines: It is clear that employees prefer to have clear policies and guidelines. Research indicates that employees prefer clear guidelines on the expected hours of work and expectations for collaboration in a remote setting. Another important area is training with regards technological tools that are to be used for communication purposes
As organisational leaders chart the path toward the post-pandemic world, they will need to communicate more frequently with their employees—even if their plans have yet to solidify fully. Organisations that have articulated more specific policies and approaches for the future workplace have seen employee well-being and productivity rise.
P.S. Those companies/businesses that are looking to re-locate to smaller offices, as the reality of a hybrid working model kicks in, please feel free to contact me as there are brand new offices available for rent, in a very central location, with the office space starting from just 60 sqm and going up to 180 sqm.