The pandemic has indeed brought about a rethinking of the future of work, expediting transformation with practices formed during the crisis that is becoming our new normal. Much has been reported about the significant improvements in our working life over the past two years, changesthat were undoubtedly prompted by necessity and safety concerns. The pandemic is still a very real part of life for many of us in 2022. However, it is fair to claim that while we perform our tasks, we have adapted to new behavioural patterns and expectations. As one of the millions of “knowledge workers” who now have greater flexibility in how and where work is done, perhaps it is a timely shift towards a better balance of our personal and professional lives.
Future work processes must be reshaped to support a workplace that is secure, inventive, inclusive, and intelligent. We will be able to better unleash human potential and create a workplace where people and teams are equipped with tools, technology, and culture to realize their full potential by changing the way we think about work, concentrating on re-architecting workflow, and using technology to elevate human capabilities. In planning a future workplace, there are five key aspects:
Employees Well-being and Safety as a top Priority
COVID-19 has brought attention to employees’ health and safety across all sectors of the economy. Returning workers use masks, sanitize theirspace and maintain social distances, and some even allowing their temperaturesto be taken. These would probablyfurther expand into workplace testing procedures, cutting-edge ventilation systems, and sophisticated detection and disinfection equipment.
The general population now experience higher levels of anxiety, depression, and stress due to the pandemic, the recession, and social instability. Employers have heavily promoted their employee support programmes, boosted the number of paid counselling sessions available to staff members while waiving or reducing co-payments, and expanded the number of digital tools available to aid self-focus and relaxation. Some organisations train managers to recognise warning signs of distress.
Evolving responsibilities of managers and managements
Leaders must empower and motivate, while maintaining flexibility resulting in better work-life balance which leads to workers to perform at their highest level and avoid burn out.
Engagement is an excellent place to begin when making that change. In light of the growing trend toward hybrid workplaces, this calls for greater interaction between onsite and remote workers to achieve the feeling of connectedness. This is accomplished through the creation of a community and support structure for staff members.
Prioritising communication is a prerequisite for hybrid managers to guarantee that the intended corporate culture transcends the whole organisation. This can entail holding town hall meetings, doing frequent video conferences to get feedback, and creating more possibilities for in-person participation. For example, managers should put in place communication programmes that involve staff members in frequent social interactions.
Hierarchies are evolving into cross-unit organisational groupings with fewer layers and more decentralised decision-making. Boundaries dissolve as organisations become more laterally structured because diverse departments must collaborate more successfully. There is a larger demand for task and knowledge sharing as division and job function boundaries (managerial, professional and technical) become more fluid.
The shift toward a team-based organisational structure is the outcome of demands for quick decision-making, reducing inefficiencies and continuous process improvement. Responsibilities inside organisations are also impacted by the blurring of boundaries as managers adopt a more supportive and coaching role in the workplace, as employees gain more autonomy and decision-making abilities.
Hybrid jobs: connecting geography and technology
Flexibility and empathy are key components of the human-centric work design, which boosts employee engagement and productivity. Additionally, businesses become more efficient, more tolerant of interruptions, and responsive to client demand. It also potentially lowers a variety of costs, including those related to real estate, travel, and employee turnover.
Radical flexibility encourages productivity. In this context it refers to letting go of micromanagement and putting more emphasis on work outcomes than activity measures. Changes in culture, trust, empowerment, and empathy are necessary for radical flexibility to take place.
Hybrid work is an evolution of geographically focused traditional workplaces into a more human-centered digital workspace model. This requires leadership to rethink the culture, implement relevant modes of working, and choose appropriate tools to drive innovation, provide better work/life balance, increase productivity, and most importantly, drive business outcomes.
The necessity of digital skills and upskilling
To make the world more resilient, capable, and inclusive, it is necessary for all stakeholders to collaborate in order to bridge the digital barrier of a global skills gap, specifically digital skill. Workplace transformations largely involving digitization, remote working, distributed workforces, asynchronous and virtual collaboration, and reskilling and upskilling were greatly accelerated by COVID-19. Companies were able to maintain momentum and seize the opportunity to construct a future of work based on work and talent requirements.
The importance of soft skills is becoming increasingly recognised. The second most indemand ability worldwide now, behind cloud computing, is creativity. Employees with the most essential skillsets- both hard and softskills-can steer organisational success in the right direction as business models evolve and technology assumes a greater role in society. Soft skills are anticipated to receive fresh attention with the advent of digitalisation as workers are encouraged to create, address and innovative business challenges, and gradually shorten their learning curve for embracing new technologies.
It is obvious that technology will have a significant impact as firms shift their learning and development initiatives towards continuous and cross-functional learning. When it comes to providing educational experiences and information in a portable and scalable manner, technologyis inevitably heavilyinvolved. In creating a more ‘involved’ workplace, digital badges and awards will make employeesfeel appreciated, interactivity in corporate learning mayincrease engagement, and microlearning increases flexibility.
The pursuit of work-life balance
Today’s workforce is changing and places greater emphasis on fulfilment. Aspects of purpose, creativity, engagement, and presence make up the parameters of employee productivity and growth.
In this context, time allocation is no longer an adequate indicator of a healthy work-life balance. It’s vital to understand that while everyone has worthwhile activities for which to devote our energy, it is also necessary to be able to exercise choice and discretion in the management of time. Future definitions of work-life balance might have employees and their employers agreeing that purposeful life and work are essential. In this future, jobs may even begin to recharge our energy reserves that enable pursuit of personal interest.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, and there are more proposals that would be necessaryin orderto have a holistic working environment in addition to the five key aspects that predict the future of workplaces. Gender equality and religious diversity are two crucial components which call for organisational improvement including fostering a work environment that values everyone’s independence, respect and dignity.
Inclusion-focused businesses see higher productivity and frequently better financial outcomes. It is not only morally right, but also strategically important for business to support gender equality. In order for an organisation to be sustainable, the boardroom should be equal in terms of social identities. This encourages more responsible governance and leadership throughout the organisation and attractsinvestorsin the future, which will encourage businesses to disclose their metrics for equality. Perhaps an acceleration in the evolution of equality as organisations reaf firm their commitment to empowering women in the workplace.