What 2020 taught us about attitudes to work

Flexibility has been on the cards for years, but it took a cultural shift for attitudes to change

Flexible and remote working is certainly not new. In fact, flexible working rights came into law in the UK in 2014, giving every employee regardless of circumstances the right to request flexible working. Even almost seven years ago, there was an understanding that flexible working had considerable benefits for everyone. In the 2014 press release Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister at the time, said: “Modern businesses know that flexible working boosts productivity and staff morale, and helps them keep their top talent so that they can grow. It’s about time we brought working practices bang up to date with the needs, and choices, of our modern families.”

Despite the law passing, flexible working was not adopted on-mass. It was mainly mothers and carers who requested flexible working, and even then one in three requests were turned down. Fast forward to today and things are very different. A global pandemic enforced over 40% of UK workers to work from home. This mass work-from-home experiment has changed attitudes to flexible and remote working, with many companies now increasing the flexibility they offer to staff. Tobi Lutke, CEO of Shopify said: “Office centricity is over.” in a tweet where he announced that most staff will move to working remotely 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 time saved from commuting.

Corporate digital transformation is becoming increasingly prevalent 

Digital transformation for success is nothing new, but the impact of Covid-19 has accelerated the need for companies to innovate. From Kodak to Blockbuster, no company is excluded from the need to innovate to succeed and many have failed to their peril.

Companies transforming digitally has become essential, especially with the shift to remote and hybridised working that we anticipate to stay as we move into a post-Covid world. As we become more agile, flexible and distributed the adoption of technology will become a key part of successful workplace cultures. Companies will need to adapt their traditional methods of training, incentivising and managing staff members for the future of work. A poll by EY discovered that 69% of C-suite respondents are aware that they need to re-evaluate their digital transformation strategies or are already taking steps to change it. Recent data also shows that digital adoption that was expected to take five years has accelerated into just a few months. Understanding the importance of digital adoption, Mckinsey laid out their 90-day plan for companies to improve their digital operations, which included: “refocusing and accelerating digital investments in response to evolving customer needs, using new data and AI to improve business operations, selectively modernizing technology capabilities to boost development velocity, and increasing organizational agility to deliver more quickly.”


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The office isn’t dead, but it won’t be the same

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 for everyone. In a survey by Gensler, only 12% of employees surveyed wanted to work from home full-time permanently and 74% said that the people are what they miss most about the office. Undeniably, the face-to-face interactions that we get from being in an office environment cannot be replaced. However, what has changed forever is people’s attitudes to work, with flexibility high on the agenda.

For most companies and their employees, a mix of office-based and remote work will be the most suitable option when it’s safe to return to the office, with an office providing an opportunity for social interaction, training, face-to-face meetings and group sessions. Post-Covid, 60% of workers would like to work from home more frequently than they did before, with almost two-thirds wanting to work from home either two or three times per week. The ‘hub and spoke’ model is anticipated to be a popular choice, with the decentralisation of office space to facilitate a hybridised working style. This model is made up of a smaller central office HQ with various regional offices located closer to people’s homes.

In an interview with the BBC, Stewart Butterfield: CEO and co-founder of Slack said: “If we can move past decades of orthodoxy about 9-to-5, office-centric work, there’s an opportunity to retain the best parts of office culture while freeing ourselves from bad habits and inefficient processes, from ineffective meetings to unnecessary bureaucracy.”

The importance of a strong company culture

With workplace teams remote and distributed engaging them can prove more difficult. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of having a strong company culture and values. Ultimately, these are the reasons an employee will choose to stay loyal to a company, so focusing on company culture particularly through this challenging period of time is incredibly important in engaging remote teams and keeping your workforce satisfied. A company that has a strong culture and has instilled its values among its workforce will have a much greater chance of succeeding while employees are working from home. Values give employees a sense of purpose. Mckinsey’s report noted that: “A sense of purpose can help employees navigate high levels of uncertainty and change and ensure that their efforts are aligned with the highest-value activities.” By educating employees on your mission statement and the company’s goals and rewarding them for living the values can give employees a real sense of purpose that can increase motivation and make the overall employee experience a more fulfilled one.


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District Technologies is a workplace experience platform that allows communities to navigate the workplace and stay connected from anywhere. Workplace communities can use the platform to simplify their on-site activities from checking into the building, booking a desk or ordering lunch. The app is also a workplace social network which keeps your community connected wherever they’re based with news, resources, events and communications.

District Technologies is the go-to workplace experience platform that delivers to landlords and companies. A snapshot of some of our clients include; WPP, Investec, CEG, Elmpark Green, Cushman & Wakefield.If you would like to find out more about District Technologies, simply book a demo or get in touch.

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