As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, millions are now being forced to work from home. What’s becoming more and more noticeable is that, now we’re all adjusting to the challenges of working remotely (many of us for the first time), the changes being made to the workspace are massively accelerating and reshaping the future of how we work. With employees performing well despite the stresses of staying at home, business leaders understand that productivity is not only feasible in the context of physical offices and face-to-face interactions: it’s possible to achieve online too.
Slowly but surely, the paradigms of work have been shifting closer and closer towards a new way of working. People will experience multiple careers during their lifetime, and never stop learning all the while. Work’s become more agile and project-based, as hierarchical structures in companies flatten out. No longer is information a resource held only by a few senior employees: a greater emphasis on connectivity is leading the way to the mass-sharing of knowledge. We can expect the future of work to value the voice of the employee equally to the CEO’s, and feature a whole new set of skills.
As companies worldwide are requiring employees to work from home in response to slow the spread of COVID-19, videoconferencing and remote work are fast becoming commonplace around the globe: but the question on people’s minds is whether we’ve already arrived at the future of work. Is this acceleration of our digital transformation going to have a lasting effect, once people have the option to return to ‘business as usual’? Let’s look at what that entails. If you take the facts and figures that surround remote working prior to 2020 and apply that to the (majority remote) workforce now, it’s clear to see that working may never be the same again.
The most immediate change we’ve seen is the explosion in a variety of technological resources. Slack, Zoom, Teams, Hangout, and various AI… for years businesses have been equipped with all these ‘unnecessary but helpful’ tools, which have now become essential overnight. Back in 2017, before remote working was a necessity, one study found that 62% of remote workers wanted their employers to provide better tech to help them connect with colleagues. One of the greatest challenges of remote working is keeping all the members of a team in direct contact, and so installing technology which enables that is now the highest priority. And once we’re all fully connected, chances are many people won’t see the need to go back to the office at all! In fact, in 2018 Buffer found that an astounding 99% of those who work remotely would prefer to stay remote, at least part-time, for the rest of their careers. We may now see this with a majority of the entire workforce.
If most people would prefer to stay working remotely, a positive knock-on effect would be an increase in work-life harmony and flexibility. Work-life balance was the number one reason remote workers gave for working from home last year, and in 2018 nearly four-in-five people said that working from home has been good for their overall health and wellbeing. As people get used to balancing their new work-life with home life, they may well realize that they feel happier. The switch to remote working for many more will cause us all to reassess and refine all the current remote-working processes, so soon may well see a more content and engaged workforce!
As we all turn to remote working, another positive feature for staff will be the shift to an employee-centric organization. Gone are the days where the customers’ needs trump all: the wellbeing of employees is a crucial factor to success too. The UK Health and Safety Executive reported that, in the UK alone, 12.8 million workdays were lost from stress, depression or anxiety in 2018/19. So when 80% of remote workers are happy in their job as compared to 55% of on-site workers, you can be sure to see a more productive workforce in the future.
Are we already in the Future of Work then? It’ll be hard to decide one way or the other until the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end and people can return to their workplaces. But one way or the other, how people work will see some degree of change. With improvements in technology and a greater focus on employee wellbeing, workforces around the world will be happier and more engaged with their jobs, whether they’re working at home or on-site. All that remains to be seen is how many people choose to stay at home – we’d wager it’s going to be more than you might think.
Is your business prepared for this shift in how work will be conducted? Are you interested in launching yourself into the future of onboarding? niikiis can help address the future of work, by making remote onboarding using technology possible. Our onboarding platform makes team communication and collaboration within the company a simple task, and encourages continuous feedback and learning between colleagues, saving you time and money.
We’re going to see a lot of changes as we transition into the Future of Work: download our infographic on the eight key things you should be prepared for, to share with your team and get them onboard.