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Positive Changes in the Workplace

30 January 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed our working lives and change can be stressful. However, it’s important to reflect on the positives too.

The workplace has hugely altered and, in many ways, for the better in the last two years. Many of us are benefiting from these changes, and many of us are seeking to benefit from them as record numbers of people leave their jobs in the so-called ‘Great Resignation’.

Perhaps you are seeking a mindset reset, to reflect on the transformations you have experienced in your work life. Maybe you want to know more about what benefits are out there now so you can take advantage of them. Maybe you have experienced burnout - something which is becoming increasingly common - and are looking to completely redesign your work life. Either way, read on!

Here is a summary of the fundamental shifts which our workplaces have and are experiencing, and tips on how to take advantage of them:

#1 The Flexibility of Remote Working

Many are seeing the pandemic as a rare opportunity to reimagine the workplace and workplace norms. Traditional 9-5 office-based work norms, essentially unchanged since the Industrial Revolution, are now evolving. Rigid working hours, inefficient in-person meetings, hyper-supervision, and large dreary offices are on the decline.

Remote working is giving workers the freedom to customise their work day to suit their personal needs. Parents can pick up their children from school, workers see the daylight before and after their work, household chores can be done during breaks to free up the evening for relaxation, and healthy habits and personal interests can be developed during the old commute time.

Remote working also allows for more diversified hiring. Those searching for work no longer have to narrow their search to their local area. Lucrative job opportunities, often found only in big cities, are now open to national, and in some cases international, candidates.

Admittedly, remote working doesn’t work for everyone. But inventive solutions like communal work spaces for rent or hybrid working options could help many to overcome this issue.

#2 Balancing Social Interaction and Productivity with Hybrid Working

Hybrid working - working partly from home and partly from the office - can create a nice balance between the flexibility offered by remote working while still retaining our connections with our colleagues and shaking up our weekly routine.

As loneliness is on the rise, making space in our day for social interaction, once easily achieved in the staff kitchen or in informal meetings, is critical. Hybrid working allows workplace social connections to be maintained, as well as promoting innovation and creativity while still offering flexibility.

#3 Healthier Workspaces

As communal office spaces pop up in urban centres and many of us begin to seriously invest in our home offices, increasing thought is put into designing healthy workspaces.

Plant walls and office gardens are offering physical and mental health benefits in many offices. Flexible hours are increasingly offered by forward-thinking businesses. Ergonomic office furniture is becoming more common in both communal workplaces and home offices to promote good posture.

#4 Digital Upskilling

New ways of working have required a certain amount of digital upskilling and innovative thinking for both employees and employers.

Many of us have become used to digital tools for communication, like Teams, Zoom or Slack. Video calling has also provided another way to communicate with long-distance friends and family in our personal lives too.

The increased use of digital tools is increasing productivity in the workplace as, for example, rambling in-person meetings are cut short by digital scheduling. More of us are utilising digital tools for training and learning, inspired perhaps by the boom in educational apps. We increasingly network across the globe. Professional and personal development has never been easier to access.

#5 The End of Dead Commute Time?

Many of us have cheerfully waved goodbye to the daily commute in favour of the short walk to our home offices. This freeing experience has highlighted the wasted time spent commuting to and from work.

Turning the usual morning hour of driving rage and frustration at inadequate drivers into a time for meditation, a proper breakfast and a fresh morning walk sets us up better for the working day.

#6 Trust

For many, remote working has reduced excessive oversight by over-zealous managers and created a feeling of trust between supervisors and employees.

Often, being left to get on with a task with minimal supervision results in increased productivity and job satisfaction, making us feel good about our working day.

And yet…

There is still uncertainty about the permanence of these changes. And there are issues that still require solutions, from the problem of gender inequality, to the growing divide between those with access to the digital world and those without. Without laws to protect work-life balance, as recently passed in Portugal for example, the boundaries between our work and home life are more at risk than ever.

However, there have been many positive changes to the workplace which we should also keep in mind. And we should not be afraid of taking advantage of these benefits where we can.