22.03.2021 BLOG

Has the future of work changed forever?

This time last year, lockdowns, face masks and social distancing were unheard of. Today they are part of our everyday language as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact all aspects of our lives. Without doubt, the last twelve months has created a number of challenges in the way we work. Workforces up and down the country have needed to adapt like never before.

These huge changes have made us sit up and wonder if the pandemic has changed the future of work, forever? The last twelve months has opened up important conversations on working from an office, working from home, adjusting working hours and the need for movement in our daily lives.

As a direct partner of O2, they have released research that shines a light on what employees want and reveals the situation faced by businesses coming out of lockdown. The survey uncovered the divided demands of employees; only 10% of workers want to be back in the office permanently while 16% are thriving at home and want to make it permanent – the remaining 74% want their perfect mixture of both. It’s not just differing preferences over where they work, but also when they work. Post-lockdown, 85% of people want some form of flexibility over the hours they work.

This shows a dramatic shift in attitudes and opinions in one year, and that there is no uniform approach that will work for everyone. Some thrive at home while others have missed meeting colleagues at the office. The research suggests that the vast majority of people are “mixers” and see the benefits of working from a mixture of places, be that the home, the office or elsewhere.

These are some of the topics covered by Active Digital’s Business Director, Jo Wimble-Groves on the Sky News Daily Podcast this week. Jo said “this pandemic, in many ways has been a gamechanger for women. We have always been an ambassador of working mums and all the experience that they can bring. For all of women who said the needed more flexibility, I think companies have really got to listen.” Jo believes that now is the time for companies to build a culture of trust and for businesses to have open and honest conversations with employees of how they can work to their best; allowing organisations to thrive, to retain its talent and overall, enable the business to grow and perform.
Building a culture of trust is what can make a meaningful difference in an organisation. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance.

Leaders understand the stakes—at least in principle. In its 2016 global CEO survey, PwC reported that 55% of CEOs think that a lack of trust is a threat to their organization’s growth. But most have done little to increase trust, mainly because they aren’t sure where to start. In this article I provide a science-based framework that will help them.

According to an article in Harvard Business Review, they write that once employees have been trained, allow them, whenever possible, to manage people and execute projects in their own way. High-trust workplaces help people develop personally as well as professionally. Numerous studies show that acquiring new work skills isn’t enough; if you’re not growing as a human being, your performance will suffer. High-trust companies adopt a growth mindset when developing talent. Some even find that when managers set clear goals, give employees the autonomy to reach them, and provide consistent feedback, the backward-looking annual performance review is no longer necessary. Instead, managers and direct reports can meet more frequently to focus on professional and personal growth.

When companies trust employees to choose which projects they’ll work on, people focus their energies on what they care about most. Giving people discretion in how they do their work, from anywhere. We ask, could this be the future of work?
Listen to Jo Wimble-Groves on the Sky News Daily Podcast here.

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