As the coronavirus pandemic continues, there is every chance that the way we work in the future will be fundamentally changed. Hopefully, this new normal will see people at the centre of work, and workplaces will be where innovation and employees, rather than processes and power, are driving companies forward.

For employees, the workplace and organisational culture are about to shift dramatically. Below are some of the changes we hope to see in the future of work:

People-first leaders

A new, human-centred standard of leadership has emerged as a result of the pandemic. Organisations that are succeeding during this time of crisis are those with leaders who put their people at the forefront of innovation. They are leaders who aren’t afraid to show a human side through empathy and vulnerability in their communications with employees. They take decisive action, but aren’t power-hungry, and recognise that employees have a voice that should be heard. This is the type of leader the future workplace needs.

Commitment to employee wellness

Before normal was turned upside-down, employee wellness was a tick-box for many organisations who filled the requirement with a gym membership or healthy breakroom snacks. Now, organisations have had to rethink what employee well-being really means, and companies of all kinds are creating programmes that take into account employees’ emotional, physical, and mental health. PwC, for example, is providing guidance on healthy work habits. Workhuman® is offering morning meditation, emotional resilience classes, yoga classes, and healthy living and eating classes. With the stresses of the coronavirus compounded by an uncertain economic outlook and the always-on nature of remote work, employee well-being has never been more important.

A better work-life balance

A side effect of increased remote working is that everyone is reachable at all times. What’s more, our personal lives have started to intermingle with our work lives, as kids and pets make appearances on video conferences and we see colleagues having to juggle the likes of work, parenting, and teaching. 

Hopefully, this insider view into peoples’ lives has revealed that our co-workers are complicated human beings, with just the same home life stresses and commitments as everyone else. Organisations need to learn from this shared experience and recognise that some things might have to change when people go back to the office. This might involve offering more flexible hours, staggered shifts, or new approaches to on-site and off-site working, so workers can more easily bridge the gap between work and family.

On-site vs. Off-site

There are many benefits for employees and employers in relation to working from home, such as increased flexibility, no commute, and decreased costs. But there are also drawbacks, like the impact on culture, physical isolation, and no separation of work and life. Companies are reflecting and considering what is important to them and their people. Finding the right balance will be critical for talent acquisition and retention moving forward – and of course, for company culture. Companies that focus on connecting, recognising, and celebrating their employees will gain a competitive edge.

Stronger human connections and alignment on values

Our connections with our colleagues are what make offices great places to work and what keep us engaged and productive throughout the day, whether working remotely or side-by-side. Hopefully, when we can meet in person again, it’ll be with a renewed appreciation and prioritisation of human connection.

Indeed, if your personal values align with those of your organisation, these human connections will grow even stronger. Workhuman research found that employees who have a sense of meaning at work are more than four times as likely to love their jobs – something that’s crucial to recruiting and retaining employees. 

The future of work

Traditional, bureaucratic processes have come under close scrutiny during this crisis as people examine what can be changed in workplaces for the better. As we move forward, undoubtedly flexibility and agility, along with guidelines around fairness and consistency, will be the processes that shape workplaces and empower employees.

When we look back at these unprecedented times, we will remember the challenges, but also the amazing resilience of human beings and the collaboration and innovation that’s happening all around us. The companies that will thrive are those with human-centric technology and strategies – companies where employees are appreciated for who they are and what they do. That is the future of work.

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