After COVID restrictions ended, many people continued to work from home and embraced the work-from-home model and lifestyle. Remote working has proven itself a success over the last 2 years, with an average of 67% of employees reporting an increase in productivity.
Consequently, as working from home is not adversely impacting businesses, imposing an ‘in-office’ policy just for the sake of it makes little sense. Business leaders worldwide need to accept that past workplace norms have changed.
The world has evolved in a relatively short amount of time, and if the new workplace norms are not embraced, firms could risk the loss of employees to more progressive businesses.
Businesses Must Embrace New Workplace Norms
To succeed in the ‘new age’ of work, businesses should consider the following new workplace norms:
The pandemic changed the future of work. A third of millennials have said they'd leave their job if they had to return to the office. There are many benefits to working from home, like saving money and time on commuting – something which many people have become comfortable with already.
Staff don’t want to go back to rigid organizational rules, these barriers are outdated and should become a thing of the past. As such, firms need to adapt to enable a better work-life balance for employees, whether that’s re-examining the standard 9 to 5 working hours or providing flexibility around scheduling clashes like the school run and doctors’ appointments.
Firms can also adapt to new norms and enable a better work-life balance by providing the option to choose your location and setting - i.e., working remotely in another town or country or by allowing employees to schedule their own days in the office.
That kind of flexibility empowers staff and enables them to make their own decisions and structure their workday to suit their needs.
Admittedly, working remotely isn’t for everyone. Some people prefer not mixing their home-life with work-life, and like going into an office environment that offers a pleasant change of scenery. In particular, shared workspaces can be a great option for employees, as it allows them to choose when and where they’d like to work.
Having hybrid options work well and it’s important to acknowledge there are some things that work better in person, like brainstorming on collaborative projects. It is important that these work environments are optimized to address this and stimulate creativity.
Ideally, offices should be re-designed with this new flexible worker in mind. Firms must value employees’ time and should opt to use offices as a space for networking and team-building – providing something they cannot do remotely.
Valuing & Understanding Employees
A good company is built on great people. Therefore, looking out for employees’ well-being and understanding what they want should be a business’s top priority.
According to a Gartner survey of more than 3,500 employees around the world, 65% said the pandemic had made them rethink the value that work should hold in their lives. Moreover, 56% said it made them want to contribute more to society and 52% questioned the purpose of their jobs, highlighting how the pandemic has been a catalyst to elevate personal purpose and values.
That underscores why employers should strive to create a purpose-driven organization. If staff members truly believe they can make a difference, feel there is a real value behind what they are doing, they will be more committed to the company and motivated to do their job well.
In addition to having purpose at work, it’s important to value employees’ personal lives. Businesses should take into consideration individual employee needs, such as maternity leave, bereavement, and recovering from an illness.
CloudFm, where I am the CEO, recently had instances where a few women were easing back from maternity leave and we offered each of them the flexibility to work a few days a week, the hours dependent on what personally suits them. We worked around them because we know you are going to get the best out of employees when they have sorted life and are happy.
The ‘Great Resignation’ is down to people putting their lives first, and their desire for better work-life balance. The more an employer limits things like flexibility, the higher the employee’s intent to leave.
Employees don’t want to feel constrained by lack of freedom and choice. Returning back to the ‘old way’ of work will encourage employees to look to more forward-thinking companies.
The UK Labour Force Survey shows resignations and job-to-job moves in the UK are at the highest level in 20 years. If your employees are thinking of leaving, there is probably something you could be doing better as a company to improve employee satisfaction.
Investigating the reasons people leave is essential to increase retention rates.
To navigate in the new world of work, CEOs and other business leaders need to recognize the power and impact employees make. They must put people’s well-being and happiness first. Listening to staff is paramount so we can create a sustainable environment to optimize productivity and growth.
Companies that refuse to change will no doubt fall behind.