27 September 2023

Pandemic work changes that are here to stay

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James Caan* embraces the work changes brought about by COVID-19 and believes they will have major benefits far into the future.

Work away from the office has gradually been edging its way into the consciousness of businesses and their employees for a number of years now.

The availability of home working has increasingly cropped up as a topic of conversation.

Questions surrounding its viability were brought up in equal measure.

Many organisations assumed that a worker would not be able to maintain the same level of productivity in the comfort of their own home.

The last few months have answered these doubts affirmatively.

There is not a one-size-fits-all answer to this, but it is clear that time away from the office has generally been a success.

There will be no going back to the normality of pre-2020. Here are four key changes that are here to stay.

Flexible Working

It is impossible to group home-working into a singular experience.

Some of us live with families, others have housemates. Not every environment is conducive to productive work.

This is why I believe a key feature of the future is flexibility.

In years to come, organisations cannot assume that a one-size-fits-all approach will work for them and their employees.

Environments aren’t the only factor that differs, so does experience.

Every one of us is on a different career journey, and we’re all at different stages.

A fair chunk of employees will still need and benefit from a significant period of their working week spent in the office.

This will still be an unrivalled home for training and development for those with less experience.

Those that are mature in their roles may benefit from more home working, and I expect organisations to account for this.

Businesses will need to offer bespoke approaches to their employees in the future — this will benefit both parties in the new normal.

Space Efficiency

Home working was often sold as a perk to the employee before 2020.

However, it also offers an opportunity for businesses that was previously overlooked.

The scale of home working we’re seeing now has illustrated the scale of savings available to businesses through reducing their real estate spend.

Shared systems such as clouds mean that employees have access to everything they need to carry out their job regardless of the location they’re in.

Some simple maths shows the scale of the potential savings.

It can be assumed that a business that employed 90 people needed 90 desks in the past.

Suddenly it only needs 30 desks because two-thirds of its employees will work from home at any one time in the new normal.

Workers won’t lose their contact time with managers and peers either.

Centralised booking systems for desks could account for the times where face-to-face contact is imperative.

Meeting rooms will be easier to book for gatherings, allowing for internal and external relationships to be maintained.

Less Commuting

I have had employees that have been at least three hours into their day without having started a minute of work.

The new normal eliminates this headache for employees, and undoubtedly increases productivity for the organisations they work for.

Cutting out the commute that many of us dread will have exponential win-win benefits.

A new reality for recruitment

For my industry, the post-Coronavirus culture opens up a new dimension of opportunity.

The new culture of flexibility insurmountably widens the catchment area for talent.

Traditionally, we would place a 60-kilometre limit to an office as a filter in our search to fill a vacancy.

The new flexible reality widens this radius significantly.

Suddenly people that are 100 kilometres away are attracted to roles knowing that their commute is limited to a couple of journeys a week at most.

We have been afforded a transformational opportunity to widen the pool of talent we source.

I am passionate about creating an environment that puts collaboration at the heart of its philosophy.

There is absolutely no problem in three-to-four days a week being spent at home, with one office day dedicated to meetings and training.

This day also offers the chance to maintain work bonds, culture and learning from peers.

As a matter of fact, we are all going to see our lives at work improve — this new way of working creates several win-win situations.

It is for that reason that I passionately believe the four factors I have outlined will be key components in the future of the workplace.

*James Caan’s passion is building businesses and backing talented people. He thinks it is important to invest in people rather than just products or businesses. He can be contacted at [email protected]

This article first appeared at LinkedIn

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