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Dave Carter
Dave Carter
  • 3 Minute Read
  • 08th March 2021

Future-Proofing the Workplace in Our New Normal

A year ago, the way we work changed dramatically. This new era seems to have brought remote working to the forefront and put in-person working in the past. Or has it?

In the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, over 40% of people in employment were working at home in April of 2020 alone. 86% of these people did so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the health crisis continued, the demand for remote working positions has shot up globally, leading to an important question. Moving forward, what combination of these approaches can we take to best enhance employee satisfaction? This in itself leads us to recognize another matter:

How has employee satisfaction changed while working from home?

There’s no doubt that some interesting conversations arose from the pandemic and how working from home took its toll on the world. Still, with the pressing task of 'returning to normal,' there is a lack of discussion of how remote working has benefited employees.

Before the pandemic, less than 30% of people had ever worked from home, marking a significant change that affected millions overnight when workplaces locked down. Initially, many developed productivity problems and found juggling home life and work simultaneously tricky, especially those not used to working remotely.

Within months, people adapted – and many employees discovered the benefits of a home office. With little to no commute time, employees found themselves able to get to work earlier and cheaper, even spending more time in the morning with family; all while gaining a more comfortable, flexible, and safe work environment.

Employee satisfaction has changed vastly due to this overnight change. A recent Gallup survey showed that over half of US workers would leave their current position for one that allowed remote working. Despite the initial drop, productivity has soared, pushing the argument that workers' well-being is key to managing productivity.

Now that employees can choose to work from home, they can undoubtedly make their work more productive. Their job satisfaction increases while realizing that their previous office may not have been sustaining their well-being.

For every positive, there are many who find disadvantages with remote working, including distractions, isolation, and the ever ignored work-life balance. Face-to-face interactions between staff can increase collaboration and build relationships. In contrast, remote working can extend the workday and often result in accidental 12-hour workdays. From an employer's view, remote work can make it harder to accommodate clients and employees. It becomes more restricted since securing business does require certain professionalism that remote working potentially disrupts. This situation requires ways to achieve the two simultaneously, reaping both the benefits of remote working and in-person working.

How can employers combine the benefits of office work with the advantages of remote working?

Future Forum research by Slack found that only 12% wanted to go back to a full-time office and that 72% wanted a mixed style. However, many employees are eager to ‘get back to normal' when this is not feasible in the current climate, especially with national and regional regulations changing so regularly at present. 'Normal' was an unprepared world not ready for Covid-19. This new fuelled, post-pandemic world must be considered when combining the benefits of both work styles.

Technology is imperative to consider when securing a new future-proof workplace. The company WhistleOut researched remote workers and their mobile phone and internet services and discovered that 35% of surveyors endured weak internet, preventing them from working effectively during the pandemic.

Many are now questioning whether employers should offer access to relevant technology to every employee, avoiding struggles in the future. Even considering large-scale events such as pandemics, it has to be acknowledged that there is a necessity for future-proof hybrid workplaces.

How can employers best make use of hybrid working for employee satisfaction?

The benefits of the hybrid work type lie in its adaptability to every employer. There are no dictates on how employees must work and so this presents an opportunity for a discussion between employers and their employees as to the best working style. In turn, productivity and collaboration will increase and further, create a more diverse and skilled workforce.

An office is a gathering place for your employees, existing to ensure a sense of belonging to provide better connections and increase productivity. There will be adaptations no matter what the circumstances are post-COVID-19. The pandemic has taught us how important trust, flexibility, and sustainability is. The one size fits all mentality is no longer sustainable.

According to Mindspace, 21% of 18–24-year-olds turn down job offers because of the design of office spaces and lack of amenities. Having the right office space matters now more than it ever has. With remote working, buildings can go underused, and in pre-pandemic London, vacant buildings cost £4 billion annually. Used or not, office space will become more available with the shift towards online working and with the knowledge of hybrid workplaces, offices really can become the perfect environments for future-ready employees.

At Office Freedom, we locate the perfect future-proof office space for your business. Visit our website and other articles and blogs for more insightful content.