Bridging the gap between what employers want and what employees need
As we emerge from a global health crisis that has lasted longer than any of us could have imagined, the future of the workplace seems increasingly uncertain. On the one hand, most employees know that a return to the way things were before the pandemic is unlikely. But on the other hand, businesses are eagerly waiting for their employees to return to the workplace. In this article, we will look at each side of the argument and present several variations of what the modern workspace will look like.
Returning to the workplace: Two sides of the same story
Although many people used to work from home, this became a reality for most employees only during the pandemic. Mandatory quarantine and social distancing measures may have been inconvenient at first, but they have opened up new opportunities for workers around the world. For the first time, employees could log in from their home computers and perform essentially the same tasks as if they were in the office. No more figuring out what to wear, spending money on commuting, or petty drama over who ate the last yogurt. But aside from the minor day-to-day inconveniences, telecommuting has given employees more time for themselves and allowed them to take control of their work schedule and adjust it to suit their needs.
At the same time, many of the work experiences that traditionally build relationships, strengthen bonds and transfer values between employees have been lost. The shift to telecommuting has particularly affected newer employees who can no longer turn to their colleagues to organically learn the ins and outs of their work environment. The knowledge imparted by interacting with your team or different departments can in some cases be more difficult to transfer through email and web conferencing. Another concern for businesses is the toll that working from home can have on employee well-being. Unchanging routine, isolation and the inability to separate professional and work life can lead to burnout. This in turn affects the productivity and level of efficiency in the organization.
4 variants of a modern workplace
Although it may seem difficult, there is a way to bridge the gap between the different needs and expectations of employees and their employers. Below we describe 4 variants of the work model that you can choose from when your employees return to the workplace. Each model can be implemented for your entire workforce or for specific departments depending on your organizational and operational needs.
1. Traditional 9-5
This refers to going back to the way things were. Employees come into the office five days a week for their usual eight-hour shifts. Sure, the office may look a little different (separate desks, hand sanitizer dispensers in every room, more hygienic), but the essence remains the same. The only change that some companies decide to add is that one or two days a week employees can choose to work from home. This model is mostly chosen by organizations that believe they may not be able to provide the same quality of service with remote staff.
2. Activity-based work
This is an advanced version of a traditional office. Employees work on site, but the office is designed to support a variety of activities. Specifically, instead of spending all day at their desks, employees move from room to room depending on the task they want to complete. There are meeting rooms for video conferencing, lounges for joint activities or secluded rooms for those who appreciate working in a quiet environment. This model increases engagement and productivity by giving employees the autonomy and flexibility to choose their ideal workspace while keeping them close to their colleagues.
3. Hybrid model
The hybrid workplace combines on-site and remote work to create the perfect mix that will keep employees and employers happy. This is because it still provides flexibility to employees while allowing businesses to maintain a work culture and knowledge exchange that comes from face-to-face collaboration and interaction. There are several variations of the hybrid model that you could implement in your organization, depending on your needs and goals. For example, you can let employees choose when they want to come in, set a fixed schedule for certain teams, or implement a mostly remote model with an occasional office visit.
4. Fully remote
We are finally waiting for a “virtual” return to the workplace. If your employees have proven they can be just as productive working remotely – if not more so – then this option may be a given. Why make them return to early morning hours, traffic jams and poorly designed offices when they can do everything you need from the comfort of their own home? In addition, this assumption also minimizes or eliminates past expenses for renting and maintaining large office spaces. To make this model as effective as possible, invest in robust communication systems and adequate training to ensure collaboration remains seamless.
Ready for a comeback?
It may have happened in an unexpected way, but the future is here. Clinging to the habits of the past can hold your organization back and drive your talent away to more progressive companies. If you want to keep up with the times, you need to treat your current and future employees with a more compassionate and human-centered approach. Listen to their concerns and needs to determine which of the above models will make their return to the workplace as smooth and enjoyable as possible.
Download The Future Of Work Report 2022: Cultural trends and what employees want to explore, what employees really value and how they feel about the modern workplace.