Post-Pandemic Workplace Changes That Are Shaping the Future of Work
What new post-pandemic workplace models will define the corporate status quo in the years to come? Thousands of executives worldwide are feverishly searching for the answer to staying competitive and productive and attracting the best people.
As we live in a world transformed by Covid, we’ve identified eight hot workplace trends that savvy executives should consider. Not all post-pandemic office design and work culture trends will be right for your company, industry, or team. However, they will give you insight into how to modernize your workplace and better understand how to adapt to the needs of post-pandemic workers.
1. Asynchronous Work
Asynchronous work is when members of the same team perform their tasks at different times of the day. This is the reverse of the normal work pattern, where all employees must be at work simultaneously, such as nine to five.
Asynchronous work is a direct consequence of the growing number of remote and asynchronous workers. In an environment where this flexibility is encouraged by employers, people can do their work in the middle of the day and make up for lost work hours in the evening.
More and more companies are recruiting employees from different time zones, giving them access to a larger and more diverse talent pool. It’s natural for such distributed teams to work asynchronously, but how do you ensure that everyone performs at their best despite different locations (and time zones)?
Consider using an employee tracking application that runs unobtrusively in the background on your employees’ laptops and measures their productivity. Remember, this technology should empower employees and help them control their productivity, not spy on them.
2. Hybrid Work Environments
Hybrid offices are part of the flexible work style that addresses people’s needs or desires to work in the office and at home. According to McKinsey’s Future of Work report, more than half of workers want their workplace to adopt a hybrid work style that includes remote work at least three days a week.
A hybrid office is a physical space designed for a hybrid workforce and business strategy that offers flexibility, a distributed workforce, and new technologies to facilitate communication across virtual and hybrid teams.
Hybrid workspaces are typically smaller than offices designed for full-time employees, as not all employees must be present simultaneously. These spaces often have open spaces (see #3), lockers for personal belongings, and a mechanism for regulating workplace attendance. Many modern hybrid workplaces favor large, interactive meeting rooms and common areas where employees can meet face-to-face.
3. Unassigned spaces
According to surveys, unassigned, dynamic, or “hot” workspaces are a post-pandemic trend in workplace design that is loved by some employees and hated by others. While companies often view hot desks as a space-saving, cost-saving solution, employees don’t find them very useful.
However, some people don’t like or appreciate the variability of the seating arrangement, which can foster innovation and friendships outside of their usual work groups. In addition, employees can choose any available “hot desk,” experiment with different seating arrangements, or use standing workstations that benefit their health.
Managing unassigned seating can be more tedious than it first appears. For example, if your organization has few desks, it may be difficult for groups working on the same project to find space next to each other. Conversely, too much space in the office can make the office feel unattractive and empty. Consider your business, ask your staff how often they need to come into the office and try to balance all the risks. Ensure employees can retreat to a secluded area to take a client call or do work that requires quiet concentration.
Finally, COVID-19 introduces new factors for configuring hot desks. Unless you are prepared to completely disinfect all workstations at the end of each day, sticking to fixed locations makes more epidemiological sense. Organizations that opt for the unassigned seating model should install seat reservation systems to manage staff and team scheduling, space utilization, ergonomics, and safety.
4. Improving Health and Wellness Initiatives
Responsible companies have always been concerned with the assurance and well-being of their employees. These aspects are now more important than ever, as more and more people expect occupational health and safety measures and various wellness initiatives to be included in their benefits package.
Most importantly, the workplace is expected to have all the necessary hygiene and ventilation measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses after a pandemic. In addition, the familiar elements are essential to employee well-being, such as ergonomic office space, adequate lighting, and comfortable seating.
The advantages of telecommuting are offset by some disadvantages regarding employee health and work-life balance. From the employer’s perspective, remote workers can be more productive and work longer hours. However, a McKinsey report on the future of work found that at least 49% of telecommuters suffer from symptoms of burnout. This figure is concerning and suggests that productivity gains could be short-lived if managers don’t take steps to support their employees’ psychological well-being.
You can start by providing greater access to open space and supporting healthy behaviors such as exercise and mindfulness initiatives. Make sure your staff isn’t overworked and taking annual leave. Finally, consider budgeting for company-paid therapy sessions.
5. Office-Less Companies
Since Covid-19 turned the world upside down, the number of fully decentralized businesses has increased, and “permanently remote” mode has become a clear trend for the post-pandemic workplace. Approximately 16% of businesses worldwide now work remotely, without an office or headquarters.
According to our survey, office workers are also not too keen on returning to the old office world.
Before you decide to move (instead of keeping a hybrid office), check most of your employees’ age and marital status. While those who have been working for 10 or 15 years, have children, and have a home in the suburbs may appreciate not having to commute, some members of Generation Z may feel like outsiders in a remote environment where mentoring and communication opportunities are limited to cyberspace.
6. Increase The Frequency of Team Development Activities
Many employees feel disconnected and isolated due to working remotely on a part-time or full-time basis. According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work in 2021 survey, 16% of remote workers experience communication and collaboration issues, and 16% feel isolated.
Many employees recognize this problem and are trying to address it by planning additional team-building activities for their remote teams. These can be implemented as team-building measures for remote teams and when there are extremely tight epidemiological constraints. However, strive to schedule face-to-face meetings and team-building activities as often as possible to allow staff to interact and connect face-to-face.
7. Online or Hybrid Meetings
Even when staff return to the office, many organizations’ meetings will likely retain a hybrid element, allowing remote staff to participate fully. The easiest way to conduct a hybrid meeting is to have face-to-face participants open their laptops and join the online meeting in silent mode so that remote participants can see each other’s faces and the shared documents and presentations.
This “hybrid” meeting replicates a remote meeting and does not offer the best engagement for all participants. To conduct inclusive, quality hybrid meetings, you need to use more advanced technical features, such as:
- Provide multiple high-quality microphones so participants can hear well from a distance.
- Install a large screen that can switch between viewing remote participants and sharing documents and presentations.
- Install one or more cameras so remote participants can observe colleagues in the field, content written on whiteboards, etc.
- Try the latest innovations for hybrid meetings, such as Zoom’s Smart Gallery, which uses artificial intelligence to recognize and display the faces of meeting participants as they speak. And by exploring Zoom’s meeting alternatives, you can choose the perfect tool for your organization and reduce your reliance on a single tool.
If your organization wants to continue to offer remote working options, investing in a robust technology tool will make meetings more productive, engaging, and enjoyable for everyone.
8. Online Training and Courses
In the early stages of the pandemic, the e-learning industry flourished, with some organizations reporting a 15-fold increase in new learners by spring 2020. People were using their newfound free time for personal and professional development. With the U.S. unemployment rate reaching 14.8 percent in April 2020, many people sought new job skills or retraining.
These data show that e-learning has become an important part of the post-pandemic work culture. Research shows that intrinsic motivations such as learning and growth are critical for Generations Y and Z. Providing employee professional development opportunities is a trend gaining value and importance in the post-pandemic work culture.
Like it or not, the post-pandemic work environment is inextricably linked to the concept of remote or hybrid work. Online or hybrid meetings, hybrid workspaces, and asynchronous working are concepts that must be introduced in the coming years.
As a manager, you cannot ignore post-pandemic trends in the workplace. On the contrary, you must be aware of them and use them for your personal development, company growth, and sector development.