How Covid-19 has shaped the future of work

The global crisis of Covid-19 is sure to leave an everlasting impact on how people work moving forward. Due to the pandemic, employees have been forced to move their office into their own home and without realising, this process has changed the reality of what a workplace means for the future. Despite this, many companies will be tempted to return to their pre-Covid ways of working, not taking advantage of the changes we have gone through during this period.

The pandemic has accelerated the test of how organisations can work remotely, and it is now clear that the work-from-home model, which many businesses had discussed before with uncertainty, has been proven as a legitimate way of working. However, now is not the time to be measuring its effectiveness; rather than simply working from home, the majority of employees will be struggling at the moment. This includes loved ones falling ill, lockdown making life hard, the stress of living through a global pandemic, among other issues. We need to not dismiss this as a fair test, but to give flexible working another chance in more normal circumstances.

Optimising remote working

Whether employees are working in the office or at home, businesses should support their people by paying attention to their natural working rhythms. For example, within a workforce, there will be a range of different performance levels throughout the day. This means that some might be more productive in the morning and less in the afternoon, and vice versa. With remote working, this may change, and companies should support their employees with this to keep them motivated and productive. An example could be implementing different working hours to suit their employees and their lifestyle. Employees need to work together to find when they perform better and work with their rhythms, whether this is remote or not.

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Communication is key, especially during these uncertain times. In the office, many employees may find themselves having informal meetings as they catch up while taking a coffee break together, or eating lunch. When working remotely, they lose these opportunities to communicate with their peers. To keep conversations flowing, work teams should find the best way to communicate with each other. This can include instant messaging such as Slack, which is a great platform to quickly catch up with others and have discussions with work friends. It is also a great place for management to remain available, check in on their team, and keep everyone connected. Instant messaging also removes the formality of email conversations, as this is used to communicate with customers.

Virtual meetings have been fun, but this a thing of the past. At first, it was great to see each other and interact with the various teams. However, employees may now find this to be more of an inconvenience than an effective way of communicating. Therefore, meetings on video should be shorter. It’s important to know that good remote working does not mean filling your day from 9 to 5:30 in different Zoom meetings – often, the fewer the video calls, the better.

A shift in careers

According to a study, more than 6.5 million jobs could be lost due to the UK Covid-19 lockdown, meaning that more than half of the positions in certain sectors, at most in the accommodation and food sector, are being lost. As well as this, recent college and university graduates are struggling to find full-time work — or even land work experience, internships or apprenticeships schemes. With that being said, this has resulted in many looking for better benefits and new opportunities in a range of different industries, despite the lack of jobs. As scary as it might be to search for a new job role during a global pandemic, there are still vacancies and new opportunities out there for those who are considering a shift in their careers.

To transition during these challenging times could be considered high risk, however, it can be highly beneficial, especially for corporate employees. During this pandemic, people have been given the one thing they want more of, which is time. Because of this, employees may have found themselves more curious about their future and if their career aligns with this. Many have seen this crisis as an opportunity to pause and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses, and a chance to think about their purpose in life. Being forced into looking for a new job could be perceived as daunting when it can be very empowering. It offers a chance for employees to be curious about who they are and what they want.

It’s important to note that interviews are still happening, and therefore so is hiring. Whilst there has been a loss in jobs in some areas, there is still an increasing demand in certain industries. Sectors such as technology, digital entertainment, online learning, essential services and health care are still actively searching for employees, and therefore job seekers should keep searching and stay flexible about what their new role may look like. Additionally, many people who have lost their jobs or have been put on the furlough scheme have found themselves taking online classes to consider new directions and a chance to pivot in their careers. As social distancing measures have encouraged the world to stay inside, many have used this downtime to take online classes to learn about new technology and build transferable skills.

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Post Covid-19

Before Covid-19, many were worried about AI taking jobs and were extremely concerned about their future career. Due to the pandemic, the future of work has now turned in a whole new direction. Remote working has accelerated faster than anyone could have expected, resulting in a world that’s now completely virtual and remote. With many advantages and new opportunities, many question how long this digital transformation will last for. It’s difficult to make predictions just yet as we still don’t fully understand how remote working will affect the workplace, however, once the world returns to the new normal, businesses will need to make big decisions.

Written by Rachel Gawley, CTO of Whitespace

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