The phrase “the New Normal” has been flung around a lot lately. In fact, we’re probably all a bit tired of it. But it is a pretty neat way of explaining how much our perception of everyday life has changed, across all facets. Whether it’s social gatherings, travel or work – it’s not an exaggeration to say that we’ll never return fully to the way things were before 2020 hit.
What does the New Normal at your workplace look like for you, though? Here are some trends affecting the way we all work right now, and probably into the future too:
1. An increase in remote working
It’s no surprise that a recent study by Gartner revealed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely post Covid, up from 30% before the pandemic hit*. That’s a sizeable shift. Organisations have been forced to allow this, and many have seen that their companies function just as effectively (often MORE effectively) than it did when employees were at the office every day from 9 to 5. It’s worth bearing in mind that remote working is simply not possible for many South Africans, due to crowded living conditions and the absence of reliable internet at home, so this trend may be less noticeable here than in more developed countries.
2. A switch to digital processes
The tech may have always existed but many of us simply weren’t using it to its full potential, because we didn’t have to. Whether it’s printing out paper invoices and filing them in the cabinet, or clocking in physically at the front desk every time you get to work, many work processes are now being digitised, with everyone enjoying increased efficiency. The same applies to software and technology that companies had bought but may have not utilised fully – for example online meeting software. Now all these assets are being explored to their full potential, with companies getting the most out of their tech investments.
3. Changing workspaces
It’s less about lonely cubicles these days and much more about collaboration. When employees are going into the office nowadays, it’s typically because they want to connect with their co-workers and have discussions (while maintaining social distancing of course). Therefore, offices are changing in ways that will enhance productivity and encourage creative thinking. The sizes of offices are also changing – and generally becoming smaller – as companies need less space to house a workforce that is spending a lot more time working from their homes.
4. Work/life balance
This pandemic has certainly highlighted the importance of our health, and the health of our loved ones. We’ve all been in Zoom meetings with toddlers sitting on our laps, and had to politely excuse ourselves from a call when the doorbell rang with a grocery delivery. Where we used to try to separate our work lives from our personal lives, 2020 has meshed them more closely together, making employees’ personal lives and -circumstances visible and relevant. Employers of the future must keep this in mind if they want to attract talented and loyal employees.
5. Less business travel
This is great news for families who may have had to live with commuting parents, or those who had to take long business trips overseas or travel frequently around the country. Being forced to do business from our homes has shown us that in-person meetings are not always essential to get things done, and we can decrease the amount of travel that we used to view as necessary.
While all these changes have been forced on us when it comes to the way we work, we have no choice but to embrace them. Companies will in future require employees who are flexible and adaptable – because the only certainty these days seems to be uncertainty.
What are your thoughts? Are you back at work? Is it very different?
Until next time.
The Wise About Life Team