Quality of Work Life: an evolving definition
As we begin to consider a post-COVID world, organizations are starting to think differently about what work will look like going forward. For many, COVID has brought its own set of challenges beyond our approach to work, giving us the opportunity to connect and learn.
This March marked one year since COVID-19 was announced as a national emergency within the US and the one-year anniversary of many of us finding ourselves bringing our work home with us. March 2020 brought an end to dedicated workspaces, lunch outings with colleagues, and commuting in traffic - instead, it kicked off a new chapter for many, which involved sharing the office with a different set of co-workers: family. Cameos of kids, spouses, and pets became commonplace and, by the end of 2020, apologies were no longer needed for going on mute or having babies on the lap of meeting participants. In a single year, remote work turned into the new "normal" for many, with one recent study estimating that 70% of white-collar workers are now working remotely . The question is: will things go back to the way we worked pre-COVID or did 2020 kick off a new way of working moving forward?
As we begin to consider the realities of a post-COVID world, organizations are starting to think differently about what work will look like going forward. Overall, sentiment around moving towards remote work has been positive, with 80% of employers indicating they believe the shift to remote work has been successful . This positive perspective has resulted in employers considering the possibilities of a new working environment norm, with companies expecting about 40% of their employees to follow a remote-working model in the future . But how do employees feel about this? What impact has working from home had on employees and how receptive will people be to the possibilities of continuing to work remotely post-COVID?
For employees, there have been a few notable benefits in shifting to a work-from-home environment:
Amidst the positive impacts brought on by remote work, there have also been challenges that have emerged with large portions of employees moving to a work-from-home space.
So, how do we ensure effective stakeholder engagement in an environment increasingly reliant on remote work? Beyond that, how do we allow for employees to feel a sense of belonging and connection when most of our workforce is dispersed? Here are a few things to consider when optimizing to a full or hybridized remote workplace model:
Now more than ever, employees have more influence to determine their ideal work environment - with measured impact on well-being, a flexible work environment can result in happier and healthier employees. While remote work is becoming a necessary adaptation for businesses, recognizing both its potential benefits and limitations is key to staying agile and flexible in a post-COVID world.
Beyond obtaining a certain level of productivity, social connectivity and belonging are foundational to creating a consistent culture within your company. To be successful, it will remain important to constantly re-evaluate the effectiveness of each new engagement approach - the outcome of this iterative evaluation will produce important lessons for companies as they reformulate, rather than replicate, office work .
Within these moments of interpersonal connection, it is equally important to present our authentic selves, to seek connection based on who we are, and how we truly feel. Creating intentional moments for authentic connection will not only preserve some level of interpersonal interaction but will also support a higher degree of well-being for employees who practice it .
For many, COVID has brought its own unique set of challenges beyond our approach to work, giving us the opportunity to connect and learn from shared experiences, struggles, and hopes for the future. Taking the time to acknowledge and embrace these experiences can help us consider the next steps for each of us. As a consulting company that is embracing a remote work/hybrid model ourselves, we are thinking a lot about how various remote work models might meet or hinder the needs of our clients. This month marked an opportunity for us to look inward to better understand what our own colleagues need and how we can apply those learnings and perspectives both within Sia Partners and with our clients. As your organization looks ahead, what learnings can be gained from your own employees’ experience over the last year? How can employee well-being fit into the future work model for your team? And, how can we help your organization as you consider how best to meet workspace needs moving forward?