Work From Home Has Changed Employees And How
More than a year has passed since the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic. Hundreds of millions of people have endured lockdowns. The world witnessed a historic shift in the 2020 job market during the lockdown. While some companies used to offer the ability to work from home as a perk before the pandemic started, it has now become the norm for most businesses. Millions have lost jobs in this critical situation. At the moment, the future looks uncertain and we really don’t know when everything is expected to return to normalcy or what kind of scars the pandemic will leave. Today we are in the middle of the Information Revolution, facing fundamental changes to the way we live and work.
How remote work has become the norm in this pandemic and what that might mean. Will we return to the office again – and if so, how often? What impact will a ‘hybrid way of working’ have on how we communicate, connect and create?
The Way Back To Office
Having tasted the flexibility and commute-less convenience of working from home, a section of white-collar employees do not want to return to offices at all even after the pandemic ends, prompting many to consider changing jobs if forced to return. While it is still early to call the employees back by the companies, some metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad, which house several big firms, have decided to allow private offices to function at 50% capacity.
Employees have realized that there is no point in wasting so much time commuting when the job can be done from home and in a more productive way. They are also able to give more time to family and personal needs. There is been resistance from employees for going back to the office and major companies are rethinking their strategies in order to avoid costly attrition.
The employees who will be returning to the office after a year or two of remote work won’t be the employees their managers remember. They have spent over a year adjusting to a radically different pace – both in terms of work and their personal lives. They have shifted their working hours and learned to manage their own tasks without supervision. They may place more value on their family time or personal priorities and perhaps been forever changed by a loss of health concerns.
Watch: 6 Ways To Be More Productive Working From Home Or The Office
After a year of working in solitude, many have come to expect more control over how, when and where their work gets done, and to have greater independence relative to their managers and organizations. Employees will not even need micro supervision anymore. They have learnt to take more of the managerial responsibility for their work.
They may not be paid more for the additional work but they are feeling more responsible for getting things done. This significant shift is becoming a challenge for organizational leaders who will now need to think differently about how to mentor and coach their team members effectively when they return to the office. The managers must start considering renewing their relationship with every single employee. Mark Zuckerberg has stated,
“It’s clear that Covid has changed a lot about our lives and that certainly includes the way that most of us work.”Mark Zuckerberg
The Paradigm Shift In Work Culture
Work culture is probably never going to be the same in the post-pandemic era. However, this gives the companies ample opportunity to restructure their work culture. A hybrid model is likely to emerge that will try to balance the productivities accomplished by remote work with the benefits of social interactions and to creativity and innovation generated by working in person with others. Corporates are already taking steps to reduce their office space for hybrid teams or even forgo one in total to save on costs.
Many companies are also planning a new combination of remote and on-site working, giving rise to a hybrid workstation. Their strategy could be to have specific days for physical meetings and collaboration, and other days allocated for remote work. Physical meetings could be for brainstorming sessions, introducing new projects or team-building exercises, while remote days would be for work that can be performed individually.
Covid-19 taught us flexibility and trust, from economic, sustainability and health perspectives. As companies begin to explore options beyond the ‘one-size-fits-all’ office solution, we can start sharing spaces in a new way. Imagine if we could have access to inspiring new locations tailored for different tasks and projects – wherever we are.