Reflections on our new way of working

As we approach a year since the UK lockdown began, we wanted to reflect on and assess our new ways of working. In October 2020, Microsoft held a Future of Work keynote in which they shared their third party and internal research. Microsoft found that leaders had gone from wondering if employees were being productive when working from home to wondering whether they were working in a sustainable way as people are at the heart of their company.

Similarly in 2020 Leesman conducted a survey of 125,000 people from 870 companies across 83 companies on remote working. They found that around three quarters of people (74.2%) had a positive experience working from home, while 82.2% stated home working had improved their productivity.

Additionally, there was no differentiation by ages: all employees were happier carrying out their work at home. The findings also outlined that the boundaries between work and home life were often blurred, impacting mental health and that not everyone had a set-up conducive to work from their home.

Travel & The Environment

One of the main benefits of working from home is that there is no commute. The average daily commute before the pandemic was almost an hour (59 minutes), according to research conducted by the TUC in 2019. This is the equivalent of 221 hours a year.

In our own team, some of our consultants have reported that they’ve been able to find a better work life balance, and find new stimulus’ around the house to help them think creatively about their assignments when they aren’t at their desk. We’ve found that virtual working has given more time to spend with family or on personal fitness. International and regional travel has also been cut out throughout the pandemic, which led to companies saving money and resources and reducing the impact on the environment.

Balancing Work and The Home Environment

Another benefit of home working has been the freedom and flexibility to adapt work around home life, which in some cases has benefitted mental health. However, home working hasn’t come without it’s challenges. Microsoft in third party and internal research found that 33% of remote workers said that the lack of separation between work and home life had negatively impacted their mental health. This lack of boundaries had led to working longer hours and feeling burnout. Equally, the disparity in equipment at home has made it difficult for employees to present themselves well virtually, as well as finding the space and quiet to work in a busy household.

Strengthening Relationships Virtually 

The psychological impact of being indoors and disconnected physically from a team, support network or clients has taken it’s toll on employees, especially roles that revolved around generating personable client interactions. Moreover, separation from colleagues when working from home has meant a loss of connection and a rise in feelings of isolation. As a team at Positive Dynamics, we’ve found it harder to read each other/clients to offer support as a lot of face-to-face interaction has been replaced with emails.

Microsoft found in their internal and third-party research that home working had some benefits including flexibility around family life and a new found empathy for others. You can read more of our predictions on flexible working in the future here. In fact, 62% of people said they felt more empathetic towards colleagues as they can now see into each other’s lives.

Technology & Data Protection

Technology has been essential for home working as well as home schooling and personal connection and entertainment. Yet, the pandemic has highlighted a digital divide (especially in the UK) for regions with accessible high-speed broadband and those without. It’s made it difficult for colleagues to interact as technology has let them down during presentations or meetings, leading individuals to miss out on vital virtual connections. Equally, home working has led to an increase in bills, which is an additional strain for families.

A major challenge has been ensuring that data is protected and software at home is GDPR compliment for sensitive data to be accessed securely and remotely.

What’s next? Is this the future way of working?

Moving forward employees and organisations will have to find a way to balance these new found benefits (flexible working, empathy, less impact on the environment and time away from family) of home working with time in the office. To ensure that everyone feels supported, connected and prioritises their individual wellbeing whilst delivering the organisational requirements in output.

We’d love to hear your experiences and hear what you’re thinking about working moving forwards. Positive Dynamics has supported organisations over the past thirty years to evolve their ways of working and implement culture change. 

The Future of Work: Hybrid Working

After working from home for over a year now, it’s time to look ahead and begin preparations for the future way of working. Will work be office or home based? Or a hybrid method of working?

By adopting a hybrid model of working it allows the future of work to be purpose led. Individuals will still have some autonomy based on the requirements of their role and the need to collaborate and connect. In this method, there are no strict restrictions or policies imposed on employees to how and where they work in the future.

In October, Microsoft gave their annual Future of Work keynote in which they stated that due to the pandemic we are now in a new era of digitisation. Traditional objections to working remotely and flexibility have been made obsolete as the shift to remote work has shown employers that “we can trust people to do their best even when there is no one watching”.

Across the globe companies have developed innovative initiatives to tackle the new ways of working from home to balance home and work life, which you can read more about here in our reflections on the new ways of working. Now we have to determine what the future of work looks like by adapting the existing concepts we have and champion the benefits (both of office and home working) to find the balance.

This process begins with managing expectations in organisational policies. On an individual and personal level, it’s about ensuring employees have good wellbeing, avoid burnout, set firm boundaries between work and home life and have access to suitable professional development. There needs to be agile options for individuals to choose a way to work that works for them within the overarching organisation objectives to ensure all objectives on an individual, team and organisation level are met.

Our prediction is that the future of work could be a hybrid of office and home work. In our view, the future office space would be used for:

  • Collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Thorny Decision Making
  • Team Building
  • Relationships & Cohesion

The space may not be a traditional office space, but it might be informal meeting room or renting out a public space for collaborative work to take place. In this hybrid way of working as well as time in the office, there would be time to work at home or in a local space such as a café or co-working space.

Remote working would be ideal for tasks that require:

  • Email
  • Independent work
  • Phone Calls
  • One to One’s
  • ‘All employee’ comms

This balance of home and office-based work breeds a culture and adopts behaviours that address the benefits and vices of working from home full-time throughout the pandemic.

As the vaccine roll out continues, the future of work and how we return to the office is fast approaching, so it’s important to act now. The change is happening now, our ways of working are still evolving so it’s important to keep reviewing them and remain agile. Be the change you want to see and lead by example with bold strategies that ensure personal and professional wellbeing is prioritised.

Will you adopt a hybrid method of working?