Many work trends that emerged during the pandemic in the past year are expected to remain. How different will the future of work look from what we are used to?
Once the world went into lockdown, many companies had to send their employees home and try to find effective ways for everyone to continue doing their job while away from the office. People had to adapt to new working conditions, thus many new trends emerged. Still, most people expected the world to return back to normal once there was a vaccine on the horizon.
Now that the option of going back to the traditional workplace seems possible, the majority of office workers are not ready to return to their previous work style. They find the changes brought in the workplace appealing and would like to continue with them in the future as well.
From the physical location to the attire, what was considered temporary could easily become permanent and represent the new normal. The future of work is expected to look different, and organisations should begin to prepare for it.
People are more willing to work from home
Many people are willing to continue working from home now that they have had a taste of it because it offers them the flexibility to create their own schedules. They can plan their day according to their needs, the assignments and work meetings they have, as well as family obligations. The lack of commuting to get to and from work is another plus.
Remote working is just as productive, if not more, than working in the office. As long as the new location does not negatively affect the productivity of the workers, there is no reason why not to allow them to pick the physical location they work from.
In fact, a lot of companies have realised the potential of allowing employees to work from home and are now switching to long-term remote work.
The hybrid model might become the new traditional workplace
Still, not all organisations are ready to switch to remote working full time because they value the benefits in-site working brings to the company culture. Many employers have started asking their workers to return to the office, whereas others have given them the chance to choose their worksite.
When thinking of a long-term solution, the hybrid model is expected to be the ideal solution. With the hybrid model, companies can combine the employee’s preference to work from home with the office working in a way that best fits both of their needs.
The hybrid model is more inclusive of employees who have extra responsibilities outside of work, have to commute from far, and so on. This new model is expected to be incorporated much more in the future because it is modern and worker-centred.
The traditional workplace might see changes
The virus outbreak has also influenced many people’s relationships with public spaces. In order to make the space safer for the employees, offices are using three different layouts with social distancing in mind.
With this alternative, companies would be using the same pre-covid layout of the office but with fewer employees working in them.
Companies can use the second alternative by putting more space between the employees. Each desk is pushed towards the walls, plus the overall number of desks and employees is reduced.
Last but not least, with the third alternative the number of employees and desks is even further decreased. Thus, resulting in more space and safety for workers.
Even co-working spaces have undergone changes. Many of them have drastically cut capacity in their shared spaces in order to promote social distancing. Their large lounges that usually have room for approximately 25 people, now seat only around 18; and their small lounges, before fit for ten people, now can be occupied by four to six members at most.
Meeting rooms follow stricter rules about the number of people allowed in. They reduce density by removing some of the seats, and in some cases, screens are added between seats to limit exposure. Some companies have decided to replace the single meeting table with small individual tables for each person. Some co-working spaces are adopting technologies like beacons and QR codes with logos for making access control and visitor management hassle-free and contactless.
The traditional workplace might see these changes for a while, but it is for the greater good.
Co-working spaces might just become more appealing
The popularity of co-working spaces has been on the rise for some time now. People like the idea of working outside of the traditional office while still having access to the amenities they offer, like workstations, desks, meeting rooms, and WiFi.
Co-working spaces are an excellent blend of working from home and the office, plus people like the collaboration, productivity, and fun that comes with them.
These spaces are cost-efficient and provide workers with great opportunities for networking by meeting people with similar or even different life paths. These spaces give the employees the opportunity to socialise with their colleagues.
Everybody is looking up to e-Learning
Nowadays, everyone is looking up to e-Learning since it offers the chance to be in step with modern training and learning approaches. Professional development is way easier and cheaper if done through educational courses in an online setting.
This form of employee training is more accessible, flexible, and adaptable for a greater number of trainees. Technology keeps changing the way we approach many things, and now it will change job training and learning as well.
People might choose to retire their business attire
Switching from business attire to comfortable clothes is much easier than the other way around. After the year people spent doing business while in their sweatpants, they are not ready to give it up and go back to wearing collared shirts and suits.
Although we doubt people will start going into work wearing pyjamas, the future of work seems to be much more comfortable. As always, clothing companies have started to design business attire that fits with people’s wants and needs, this time prioritising comfort.
Although we can argue from both sides on whether employees should be allowed to dress casually at work or not, the truth is that clothing does not affect their productivity, and companies are beginning to realise it. Be prepared to see workers rocking a slightly different look while on the job from now on.
Most of the meetings might be held online
Another aspect of work we should get used to seeing more often is holding meetings online. There are many benefits to it, starting from the ease of attending from anywhere in the world. Regardless of where you are based, as long as you have your laptop and a solid internet connection, you can join any meeting.
Commuting to and from places takes time and money, but since you don’t need to travel, an additional perk is the cut of money and time costs. During online meetings, it is also easier to share information and documents since everyone has their own screen.
Companies have had their share of online meetings and recognise the advantages that come with them. Therefore it is expected that this form of communicating within the organisation sticks around.
Home privacy might become a norm
Another perk of working from home is the privacy it gives employees. Being used to your own space, your own rules, and reduced observation while working can be hard to give up. This is why home privacy might become a norm in the future.
Employees value the lack of distractions when working, something that in many cases is not always present when working in offices with many people around you. That is why it is expected that in the future companies, focus on creating environments that offer the right amount of privacy and collaborative work.
Assigned seats are a must
Hot desks are a thing of the past. Nowadays, more than ever, people have become aware of the importance of personal distance. Everyone wants to have their own space wherever they work, which is why assigned seats are a must.
Although, as previously stated, many employees might be working from home, the ones who do return to the office will need a personalised space to ensure comfort and lack of distractions.
Although collaboration is an important aspect, there will be designated areas for it outside of the assigned seats and desks. Workplaces which value their employees let them have some control over the space they work in.
Many of the changes brought to the workplace by the need to adapt to the pandemic conditions, seem to be permanent.
The future of work values the employee’s comfort and happiness. Many of the changes expected, from business attire to physical location, are centred on the worker’s needs and necessities in the workplace environment.
Because of the privacy and personal space that comes with working from home, many companies may switch to remote work or a hybrid model. However, collaboration and networking are still important and encouraged through co-working spaces.
The new normal will also see a shift in the way meetings and training are conducted, from in-person to online spaces. Overall, the traditional workplace will look a lot different than we are used to seeing.
The bottom line is, many changes were thrust upon workers when the pandemic hit. However, the silver lining is that the workers happened to find some of them appealing and want to incorporate them in their working style. The future of work is what the employees want it to be, and companies are accepting that.
About the Author
Amelia Johenson is a freelance writer with expertise of over six years. Currently, she is working for Jamatu. Amelia loves sharing her knowledge, skills, and personal experience in digital marketing so that others, too, can craft content that makes people take action.