Our individual experience of the pandemic has been different. But there is no doubt that it has catapulted us all into a major period of change – no more so in how we interact with work. This is the leadership challenge of the moment as organisations juggle increasing demands for flexibility and better work-life balance.
Hybrid working is here to stay. A BCG study shows that 89% of us expect to work from home at least some of the time. Flexible working gave us more time to spend with partners and children and to engage in activities outside of work. Further research also indicates that 76% of all mothers and 73% of fathers agreed that they would like to work flexibly to continue to spend more time with their children.
When it comes to being at work, we are more focused on how we learn and develop. Studies show that Covid-19 caused 46% of US workers to re-evaluate their skill sets and a further report indicates that 55% of employees think additional training is necessary for their role. Moreover, 3 out of 5 workers are pursuing learning opportunities outside of their own company’s training. Companies should start seeing investment in learning and development as a competitive advantage as more and more employees seek out organisations who offer these benefits.
We are also more reluctant to go back to working physically in the office. As this NYT article suggests, even the most high-profile technology firms in the US are finding it difficult, despite the numerous perks and incentives offered.
Whereas, in the UK, the right to request flexible working is enshrined in law, being able to work flexibly is not a given. This can be a policy minefield for organisations. The Work Foundation highlights that there was a 50% increase in UK tribunals appealing refusals for flexible working patterns. And employees are voting with their feet. One study showed that 72% of workers who are unsatisfied with their present amount of flexibility indicate they are likely to search for a new job in the next year.
As yet, there is no one path to follow in adapting to our new relationship with the workplace. In line with what Mark Stelmach (Director of Sales Operations at Firstsource) indicated in our report, companies cannot adopt a one size fits all approach. Dialogue is the best way to see how the needs of employees and employers can both be taken into account.
Now is the time for leaders to think differently, as there is yet no blueprint to follow to find the best solution for their organisation. The good (or bad) news is that, for most businesses, this is still a work in progress. But involving your employees in the conversations can only help.
Discover more about the challenges and opportunities of the new world of work by downloading the full Curium report here.