Without much time to prepare or plan, the pandemic demanded that we change how we operate on a day-to-day basis.
In the beginning, change may have felt clunky and awkward as we all tried to figure out how to do everything differently.
Work-life especially has shifted into a new space. Zoom calls and working from home have seemed to dismantle what we know as the “workplace”.
But is it really gone?
Flexibility and balance
Whether it was working from home or downsizing offices, many organisations already had plans to readjust their working space. When the pandemic hit, it accelerated those plans and forced them into action.
Even now, in a low-transmission environment like New Zealand, organisations are still adjusting to their workspaces. So much so that the workplace itself has seemed to disappear.
Introducing flexible working has been more beneficial than many of us predicted. Remote working has allowed for fewer distractions, made it easier for part-time employees to attend meetings and to feel more part of the team, secured staff retention, and has effectively eliminated wasted time in traffic.
Remote working has also introduced a better work-life balance for many employees. Being able to spend time with family or getting to pop out for a quick job on a lunch break has given people the freedom to enjoy themselves more during the working week. These benefits have created an overall more productive work environment.
Despite this, implementing flexible working strategies is still relatively new territory for many businesses and transitions haven’t always been smooth.
In order to have a productive workplace in a COVID world, businesses should dedicate more energy towards cultural maintenance. This might mean reaching out to professionals who understand pandemic related strategies.
A cultural shift
For the most part, people who were able to move to working from home found satisfaction in the flexibility it offered.
Even with the significantly shorter commutes and ability to work in pyjamas, working from home hasn’t been without its challenges.
The biggest downside has been the lack of social engagement. As human beings, we crave interactions and rely on having relationships with the people around us. Tools like Slack and Teams allowed employees to reclaim some of that lost communication, but even with these messaging tools, working together as a team has still been difficult for many.
There has been a general loss of culture and sense of belonging. This has caused more issues with employee mental health, which has only increased the demand on employers to look after their staff.
Teamwork and collaboration have also become harder to maintain, leading to higher levels of stress and dysfunction. Staff struggling with technology, clashes between employees or employers, and general frustration with remote working can reverse the positive effects of flexible working.
In some cases, new employees have been virtually onboarded. Working remotely means these new employees miss out on building relationships that are vital for them to be fully integrated within the team.
On top of that, there is a loss of learning environment. Whether it’s with a new employee or an existing one, learning is a fundamental aspect of business growth.
The conflicts caused by remote working that get unaddressed can have long-lasting, detrimental impacts on a business.
What can be done?
A survey by Gallup showed that when employees are engaged with regularly, they are more dedicated to producing high-quality work. Businesses that understand this result in 21% greater profit than those who don’t.
Partnering with employment relations experts can strengthen employee engagement, help with conflict resolution, and provide the necessary guidance needed to navigate through a pandemic influenced world.
Empty office spaces and Zoom calls can be misleading – the workplace still exists. It’s only our definition fo the workplace that has changed.
However, if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that everything can change in a matter of a day. Three60 can ensure that even in the middle of a pandemic, resolutions to conflicts are found, employee engagement and work culture are maintained, and that your business continues to function productively.
Get in touch with us to discuss the best solutions for your business.