How has the pandemic over the last two years affected our approach to work?
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in many ways. We have had to adapt to new ways of doing basic everyday tasks, especially our approach to work. Lockdowns forced us to stay in our homes as much as possible, which slowly introduced us to a new way of living. This new way of living has answered many Australians’ prayers, in that we are now living in a society that values a high degree of work / life balance. As pointed out by Dr Sean Gallagher (Director, Centre for the New Workforce – CNeW), “While always seen as central to an organisation’s operation, offices should now be viewed in a new context of driving sustainable business growth and social impact.”
The pandemic has caused many of us to re-think our employment and future careers. Having the ability to work from home has revealed interesting facts, such as:
- People are more productive at certain times of the day; some in the morning and others in the afternoon or evening.
- Working from home has enabled working parents to spend more time with their children.
- A number of employees have gained extra time in their day which previously would have been spent commuting to and from work.
- Some employees have found that they are more productive working from home as they are not confronted with as many distractions as when they are in the office.
- Financially, it is cheaper for some people to work from home; they are not eating out on a regular basis and save money on travel.
- The mental wellbeing of many have improved since being able to work from home. Having an increased level of work / life balance has led to people being happier individuals overall.
Due to the above-mentioned points and many more, the demand for the implementation of a hybrid working model is constantly rising in the workplace. In essence, as our workplace needs are evolving, employers may need to be more flexible in the way they allow their employees to work. The hybrid working model looks different from business to business. It is a model that allows for flexible working conditions as each employer sees fit. For instance, some employers may engage a hybrid model that allows employees to work from home full time, whereas other employers may implement a hybrid model that combines working from home and the office.
At the end of 2021 during the second year of the pandemic, a survey was conducted by CNeW with 1000 participants, which revealed the following (full source can be viewed here https://www.swinburne.edu.au/research/centres-groups-clinics/centre-for-the-new-workforce/our-research/hybrid-working-australia/):
- 43% of employees confirmed that the absence of flexible working arrangements could be a ‘deal breaker’ when considering a new job offer.
- Worker retention rates could dramatically decrease if flexible working options are not offered.
- Hybrid models have become the most preferred arrangement for employees.
Technology, primarily, has been a major contributing factor that has enabled most people to work from home. We have now become accustomed to accessing company specific systems and programs from our home to complete our work, and team meetings / client consultations have been conducted using various video conferencing means. Basically, the need to meet with people to complete a task has become less and less important. But… is the lack of or decreased face to face interaction with our colleagues, clients, etc. a positive outcome? For many businesses, it is important for their employees to have a relationship with each other. Building strong relationships with our colleagues and customers contributes to creating cohesive, collaborative and productive organisational cultures, which in turn leads to optimal levels of productivity. Another question that must be asked is, how often are there technological glitches that affect communication via video conferencing? Perhaps a hybrid model that combines working from home and the office would be more effective?
Has the pandemic affected how you view your job or career? Has the pandemic persuaded you to consider other employment options? You are not the only one if your answer to these questions were ‘yes’! Thankfully, there are options out there for everyone, and flexible working arrangements are a common amongst most employers. Selecting which option may be best can be a challenge, and something an experienced Career Counsellor can assist you with.