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The future of work

Office sector, Hybrid work

The future of work is human-centered and whether organizations will succeed or fail depends on how workers’ needs are addressed, and this should start by taking a close and careful look at the workplace.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to workplaces across the globe. Government-imposed lockdowns have left countless companies with no choice but to send their employees home to work remotely. Online meeting platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meets have become our conference rooms; face-to-face events gave way for webinars and virtual conferences; and online project-management solutions and CRMs our way to converse and interact with our colleagues.

Two years into the pandemic, it seems that the world is gradually starting to learn to live with Covid-19. In fact, a poll recently released by Monmouth University shows that 70% of Americans agree that Covid-19 is here to stay and that Americans just need to get on with their lives. While the current Omicron surge is still causing record-high number of cases and significant effect on hospital bed and ICU utilization, it is not as severe as previous Covid-19 surges, which in a way gives us a sense of optimism – that the disease is now becoming more manageable and that we can start planning for our post-pandemic normal.

But even before the current Omicron surge, many companies had already been planning on their back-to-office strategy. Many of these plans involve looking for ways to ensure that workplaces are safe, that they adhere to social distancing norms, and the workers will feel confident that their health and well-being are actively promoted. All these while making sure that collaboration and a sense of community are promoted.

What is the future of work?

Tomorrow’s workspaces are quickly becoming today’s reality. Advancements in work trends were driven by the disruption brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the world is continuously formulating strategies to adapt to these changes.

In 2021, Colliers conducted a survey during one of its quarterly market briefings and found that 34% of companies implement a 50% on-site and 50% work-from-home hybrid work split. The same survey also showed that 63% of companies are considering continuing split operations post-pandemic. With companies’ and employees’ attitudes shifting positively towards hybrid work, offices must be able to adapt to these changes, which begs the questions: what would the workplace of the future look like?

Work that focuses on happiness

As workplaces around the globe undergo major transformations, with many easing comfortably into adapting the hybrid way of work, companies are seeking ways to strengthen their commitment to providing a safer workplace, with strong emphasis on employees’ physical and mental well-being. After all, some work cannot just be performed remotely and at some point face-to-face collaboration will be required.

One of these is opting for green certifications and incorporating sustainability features to their properties. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, not only do these give landlords and tenants cost savings on electricity and water consumption, they also lead to happier, healthier, and more productive employees.

Work that promotes collaboration

While working from home has many advantages, chief of which is eliminating lengthy commute time for employees, the role of the office in fostering team spirit and collaboration remains crucial.

Office workers, after almost 2 years of pandemic and being cooped up at home, are now yearning for an interruption to the monotony of home-based work, and companies may take advantage of this by providing smartly designed spaces that encourage workers to quickly engage with their colleagues and conduct a bit of brainstorming session sans the too-formal ambiance of a conference room.

Work that focuses on humans

It is reasonable to expect companies to be focused on productivity, but a more important shift is likely to happen soon in the workplace, which is a move towards focusing on what employees need to be at their best. Dubbed “human experience management,” this concept focuses on the impact of employee experience on companies. It provides ways to improve employee experience, which in turn creates benefits for the company. In a sense it is a shift from productivity to purpose – fostering the idea that knowing one’s work has meaning and contributes something matters more than job completion.

As the world continues to change as we adapt to our post-pandemic realities, workers will continue to have hopes, fears, and challenges, and it is up to companies and businesses how to react in order to address these – whether agile or static, empowered or defensive, humane or controlling. But no matter what, the future of work is human-centered and whether organizations will succeed or fail depends on how workers’ needs are addressed, and this should start by taking a close and careful look at the workplace.

 


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