- Now is the time for businesses to be reassessing their workplace strategies.
- Embracing change will bring benefits while resistance risks driving away key talent and younger employees.
The future of work is unknown, but one thing is certain: it will never be the same again. COVID-19 lockdowns have ingrained working from home to an extent that seemed unlikely in the naïve, pre-pandemic days of 2019. The return to the office has slowly begun, but it has been significantly delayed by the impact of new COVID-19 variants. Another factor slowing the return to the office is resistance from employees. This resistance is not necessarily militant, but is founded on a range of factors including freedom from the pressures of commuting, lingering health concerns, and most importantly, the fact that people have been able to do their jobs effectively while working from home. In fact, GlobalData research shows that most companies suffered no negative effects from the implementation of work-from-home (WFH) cultures and processes, and almost half saw a productivity increase.
For employers, resistance to adopting WFH or hybrid working (i.e., a mixture of home and office working) is understandable, but it is also likely to be difficult, if not futile, as well as potentially unwise. The number of businesses and public sector organizations that have now adopted WFH or hybrid working on a permanent basis means there is significant choice for workers. Numerous studies have shown that employees are now more willing than ever to change their jobs in response to what they consider to be a poor working environment. This is especially true of the youngest generation of workers, who have very different expectations and a very different mindset than their older peers. Furthermore, those employees with the most important skillsets are normally those most able to find a job elsewhere; businesses should not risk losing key talent due to outdated workplace policies.
Businesses should instead see the emerging post-pandemic world as an opportunity to redefine themselves as employers. Businesses should be seeking to engage with technology partners to understand how technology such as hosted collaboration, customer contact platforms, and artificial intelligence (AI) can enable the workforce of the future. This work will involve redesigning office environments to accommodate a more fluid workforce and delivering workplace tools that function regardless of an employee’s location. Finally, businesses should seek out a partner that can help them achieve these ambitions with the right security and regulatory compliance features in place.