Companies have choices to make for their post-pandemic work model – here are some of the key options
How we work will be a critical focus for most employers’ post-pandemic. Office-centric cultures have had to shift to more flexible ways of working, and effective post-pandemic working models for operations and staff are as yet untried and tested.
A new report recently published by the Productivity Commission found the percentage of Australians working-from-home (WFH) had jumped from 8 per cent to about 40 per cent over the past two years, staying high even when previous lockdowns have ended.
However, the report also quotes CEO of JP Morgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, who said that WFH:
“doesn’t work for people who want to hustle, doesn’t work for culture,
doesn’t work for idea generation”.
Obviously, a one-size solution will not fit all and this will vary depending on each business, sector, size and structure. Certainly, in the short term, acceptance of more work flexibility is highly likely with more attention on workers mental health, work-life balance and burn-out issues than existed before.
Hybrid work environments may well become the new norm – here are some options that may be adopted:
Switching to fully remote
Adapting to the realities of the pandemic often meant shifting quickly to a fully remote working environment. Maintaining communication channels was critical, often necessitating more flexibility around when employees work, and ensuring there is adequate infrastructure in place by way of access to fast broadband, devices, apps and security. A new management approach was also required to maintain team focus, collaboration, and providing access to essential information and tools.
The hybrid model
Such a model means adopting a work structure that can be both completely remote, but also enabling work in a hybrid format such as accessing a shared / flexible desk within a hub or serviced office environment. This usually comes with a high degree of flexibility and freedom of choice on what works best for the individual worker.
The activity-based work model can provide complete flexibility with employees deciding if they want to work in an office or from home. Physical offices are still present, but redesigned to support specific work activity, including collaboration. This often relies heavily on the employee knowing what’s best for themselves to get the job done, giving them the choice. Choice and flexibility are therefore key, accepting that work location is a less important factor.
Clearly the pandemic has sent shock waves through traditional work practices forcing companies to switch to new work models and practices to remain viable and continue trading. Invariably, companies have had to trial new models and practices to see what works, as well as looking to others for inspiration.
Quoting the Productivity Commission report again, according to people surveyed, the main advantage of WFH, was saving time and money on their daily commute. Also having more time and control over their day, to sleep, exercise, etc.
But there are also downsides, particularly with regards to impacts on physical and mental health due to less incidental exercise, the problem of increased isolation and loss of boundaries between home and work life.
Undoubtedly, the future of the workplace is being re-assessed. Productivity is vitally important, but so are the employee-wellbeing considerations that have emerged from the rapid shift to a largely WFH model. It will be interesting to witness how things settle after this initial post-pandemic back-to-work phase and what part flexibility plays going forward.
For further information on staffing solutions to meet your evolving workplace needs, or to discuss different job opportunities, please contact your nearest Finite office where our expert team will be pleased to help.
Finite Recruitment Sep 2021