How has Covid changed the way we work?

Covid has changed the way we work, and that’s not just in the short term. From a shift in attitudes to remote and flexible work to overhauling how we use office space – the way we work has been altered undeniably.

5 trends at work that Covid has accelerated

Hybrid working

How can we mention changes in the way we work as a result of Covid without talking about remote and hybridised work? Remote working is one of the biggest shifts we have seen in workplace attitudes and not just in the short term. Covid has accelerated the trend of remote work, particularly in the corporate world. Pre-Covid, 80% of companies did not have a remote-work program, but moving forward a predicted 25-30% of the workforce will be working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021. Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify said: “Office centricity is over.” in a tweet where he announced that most staff will move to remote working permanently. Other companies following suit include Slack, Twitter and Zillow, all of which have announced that employees can work remotely permanently if they choose.

The benefits of remote working include increased productivity, a better work/life balance and not needing to commute. However, working remotely full-time is not suitable, or indeed viable for everyone. A report by our client Cushman and Wakefield stated that: “it is nonsensical to take recent events and extrapolate to a future world where everyone works from home.” and they went on to state that they believe: “the workplace ecosystem of the future is a mix of traditional office spaces, home offices and semi-public spaces.” What we do know is the future of work is likely to become much more hybrid.

Work/life balance

With a rise in remote working, the 9-5 as we know it could be a thing of the past as we move away from traditional set-ups to more flexibility. The pandemic caused many office workers to work remotely full time over the period of lockdown, which highlighted the importance to employers that their workforce can’t function properly without them being able to accommodate for family and personal responsibilities.

The silver lining is that as a result attitudes towards flexible working have shifted and it is likely that many companies will incorporate more flexibility for their employees as we move forward.

On the flip side, there is a downside to be aware of in terms of the coronavirus’ impact on work-life balance. It can have a negative effect on those that continue to work remotely for all or large parts of the working week. Working remotely has blurred the lines between personal and work-related stress as the boundaries between work and home life are crossed.

The hub and spoke model

The office is not dead, but the way they are utilised will shift. As we move away from large centralised offices to distributed offices and towards higher levels of remote working, the way we work with our teams will change. Distributed teams can offer better quality talent, as companies will not be constricted to hiring by location, and will allow them to work with more agility. The concept of the hub and spoke office model is not new, but it has recently been brought to the surface as a result of the pandemic as a smart and more efficient solution to our office needs post-Covid. Khalid Aziz, Marketing Director at BizSpace, said: “‘Hub and spoke’ offices allow employees to work from either their city hub or a dedicated, strategic spoke location, including more regional workspaces.” The head office or ‘hub’ site is typically in a central location and acts as the cultural hub for the company and its employees. The regional and distributed offices or the ‘spokes’ will offer areas to work for either specific company functions or teams.

As people adjust to working in more agile ways, a hybrid hub and spoke model is the obvious next step: central HQs and a network of regional flexible workspaces to power both home and office-based teams.

Collaborative HQs

Leading on from the hub and spoke model, central city office headquarters will become a place of team connection and collaboration. In an article by Evening Standard. Ewan Jones, a partner at architects Grimshaw said: “When you work individually, that can be done almost anywhere now electronically,” says Jones. “But the value of offices perhaps is in the social and collaborative aspects. Fewer people are having individual desks, more space is being given over to collaboration and joint working. And we can see that being accelerated.” We anticipate that the design of office headquarters will be overhauled, creating more space for group sessions and less individual desk space. 

Communication, digitised 

Digital communication has played a fundamental role in the way many have worked as a result of working from home full time due to lockdown. Over lockdown, video conferencing tool Microsoft Teams saw an outstanding 500% increase in usage of meetings, calls and conferences and Zoom saw record levels of usage. Slack, an employee communication platform, saw a huge increase in paid subscribers. Covid-19 has accelerated trends in remote and hybrid working environments that will mean that digital communication will continue to play a huge role in the way we work and interact with colleagues and clients.

Companies that are planning to keep their teams remote or distributed will need to transform their communication digitally to be better equipped to support their teams and drive better results. Robert Bolton, Head of Global People & Change Center of Excellence, KPMG International, said: “Just as those companies that were furthest in their digital journey adjusted the fastest in response to COVID-19, those that continue with digital transformation and go beyond organizational agility can position their organizations best to face the next event.” So, if you haven’t already, take the time to research and implement new technologies that can aid your communication to adjust to this new reality. 

One of the key challenges of working from home and distributed teams is the lack of communication. Distrct have combatted this by offering a virtual workplace community in the form of an app. Employees can check out the latest company news, browse and join events and connect with their colleagues. Companies can keep their employees in the loop by sending push notifications and employees can get the answers they need through the HR chat feature. Polls can be conducted in the app to get feedback from employees on services or support. It also has a variety of functionalities that support office life too, so it’s an ideal app for supporting a new way of distributed work.

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