Already deep into Q2, companies across the globe have learned how to adapt to everything that Covid has made us face. But between stronger healthy measures and new daily habits, there’s a thing there we’re sure will never be the same: how our lives in an office space will work.
We’ve already covered Part 1 of our report last week, and today we’re bringing to your attention some other key things we all need to take into account heading into a post-pandemic world.
Let’s crack on!
Our communication will be more asynchronous
As we move more toward a hybrid work model, don’t expect your colleagues to get back to you right away. While in an office, you can walk right up to your boss or coworker to ask a question. Creators of workplace software are hoping to make things a little different online. Specifically, to enable a remote workforce that might be scattered around the globe, the focus is now on how to replace a lot of synchronous communication (in-person chats, live video, phone calls) with conversations that can happen at people’s leisure (messages, posts, recorded video).
The intention is to allow people to better concentrate than they could in the office and to accommodate the realities of working from home.
The companies that have navigated this the best are the ones that have figured out what’s urgent and how can we plan to make sure that fewer things are urgent. Doing so enables workers, especially parents, to make room for their lives at home, including teaching their kids or bringing them to school.
As it stands, most employees use existing communications software in a very synchronous way. When people message their colleagues, they expect a quick response and they usually get it, which can be deleterious for concentration.
It will also be important for companies themselves to govern how people use their workplace communications software and what’s expected of them and their response times. The vast majority of communications on Slack and Teams happen through direct messages, which many people feel compelled to respond to more quickly than, say, a post in a channel. To make sure this doesn’t feel just as pressing as a tap on the shoulder, companies need to institute guidelines that assure workers a response isn’t immediately necessary.
Unfortunately, since many companies moved to remote work so swiftly at the onset of the pandemic, they didn’t have time to put into place best practices for communicating online and working from home. But just because things are working okay doesn’t mean they can’t be made better!
How our productivity is measured will change
One long-held criticism of the physical office is that metrics, like presenteeism, mattered to management, and this assumption cultivated a system that benefited, say, young men without families, who could log more hours. Now, without as much emphasis on the actual office, the way that managers measure an employee’s success will also change.
Emphasis for knowledge workers has moved to output, or how much work an employee actually does. To give you some context, for a long time the way people evaluated people in a workplace setting was related to aptitude, attitude, and attendance. Now that we don’t have those things daily, the concentration is on output!
Along with the above, productivity metrics will be more qualitative: the outcome of production rather than the raw amount of something produced. In 2021, the majority of workers in multiple studies say they’re just as productive or even more productive at home as they were at the office. Food for thoughts!
Culture will be more difficult to build (and maintain)
It’s much harder to make and retain a company culture when workers aren’t in the same room. And that ability has diminished as the pandemic has worn on.
Workers have been limiting their interactions to a more core group of people — the ones they work with directly — rather than communicating with a wider range of groups that they may have in the office, and we can easily imagine new hires struggling with creating meaningful connections with colleagues and clients. So yeah, it’s been overall good for productivity, but pretty difficult when it comes to creating or nurturing company culture.
Without interactions with a wide range of people at your company, company culture suffers since people aren’t exposed to the same set of behaviours and values. To rectify this, management will have to be more intentional with connecting people across the organization, rather than just their direct colleagues. So far it’s been difficult to mimic online the culture-building that happens in person.
We’re more human at work
So yeah, company cultures are kind of struggling but is also fair to point out that you don’t come out of seeing your coworkers — and their living rooms and their babies and their pets — in the middle of a global pandemic without getting a little closer to them. And such closeness makes people happier and better at work!
The pandemic did a good job of humanizing people, not only because we saw more of their interior lives but because we worked with them while going through something immense. Technology actually made us more human! According to the study, all of these interactions correlate with a better sense of well-being, higher productivity, and more positive perceptions of work.
More of your corporate colleagues will live somewhere else
As more people can work from anywhere, more people will. There’s been more than a five-fold increase in the number of remote job postings on LinkedIn compared with last year. And nearly half of workers said they’re planning to move now that they can work remotely, according to both the Microsoft survey and one from Owl Labs.
This has the potential to reverse a decades-long move toward big cities. For those knowledge workers who move, this is a chance for more freedom in where they live and the chance to enjoy a higher standard of living than they had when tethered to big expensive cities.
This means access to a wider range of talent for employers than can be found in the city they’re headquartered in. And this is yet another one of the many changes the pandemic has wrought on office work.
We’ve got to the bottom of this. How are global companies adapt to the above trends? This is the key question. There will also be many more habits rising in our post-pandemic reality… and it’ll be amazing how we will all adjust to those!