Hybrid, remote work and employee well-being, are amoung the three things, that took centre stage during the height of the pandemic. However, they are not new phenoniums and had been bubbling beneath the surface while we were all rushing around before COVID-19. And, while we inch our way back to business as we know it, redefining norms requires us to answer questions that often cannot be resolved on our own. In short, we will not be going back to the way things were. We are living in the new normal.
Here are 5 things that gained traction since the pandemic:
Mental Health and Social Well-Being:
A recent survey revealed that younger workers placed a heavy emphasis on mental health and well-being and will not work for a company who does not take it seriously. That’s a stark difference from the previous generation. The pandemic and ensuing lockdowns added pressure on employees, and tested their wellbeing and private lives. The trend towards more purpose-driven jobs and companies was well underway before Covid, with millennials in particular known for prioritising purpose over pay cheques.
The Rise in Remote Work
COVID-19 forced employees and businesses to shift to working remotely using multiple platforms, such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Hangouts and Skype. The transition to working from home can reduce infrastructure costs by leasing smaller workspaces, and coordinating a workforce across multiple time zones to maximize daily workflow. Moreover, the benefits of work-from-home can be attractive for some employees and may, include increased schedule flexibility and reduced strains with family. And, while this is a preferred option for some employees-others in healthcare, warehousing and logistics, retail and some other industries don’t have the luxury of working from home.
Companies have been grappling with labour shortages for most of 2021. And while, some have argued, that the pandemic relief doled-out by governments were the real reason for labour shortages, the persistent labour shortage, tells a different story. After being laid-off or furloughed, many employees have decided they do not want to go back to the way things were. In fact, employees are seeking more flexibility, more happiness and rethinking what work means to them and how they are valued. Employers on the other-hand are trying to adapt by offering hiring (cash being one of them) incentives. But will this be enough and a little too late? Only time will tell.
Our Workplaces will Look Different:
With less people coming into the office regularly, companies will likely re-evaluate their real estate needs. Hiring perks like; beer Fridays, office gyms, dry cleaning pickups, ping pong tables and free snacks have likely lost some of their luster, since many people have been spending more time in their home offices and have fully embraced the concept. Also, when workers are not in the office to actually enjoy them, companies will be forced to re-evaluate these incentives and work culture.
Pandemic-Inspired Union Efforts
Labour turmoil has followed the course of the pandemic. Some grocery, warehousing, meat packers, gig and other low-paid workers deemed “essential” during the pandemic lacked access to employer benefits, like paid sick leave or compensation for working under hazardous conditions. And, this some say, has amplified the public support for unions even more. The pandemic has put a spotlight on workers’ rights issues and accelerated an organizing movement that’s been slowly building in recent years — and with the pandemic, it just reached a breaking point.
So, what does this all mean going forward? No one really knows. In reality, it will likely mean more of the same: We to continue to mask up, get vaccinated, and stay isolated if sick and be adaptable. And, it will likely not be the normal we want, but it may be a normal we can contend with. We may go to the office a few days a week and/or we will work from home. Finally, we will stay home when we are sick.