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Businesses across the world are currently adjusting to changes in employee attitudes as a result of COVID-19. The majority of office workers no longer accept the former norms of white-collar life, where they were mostly required to be in the office from 9-5, Monday-Friday. Even before the pandemic, these changes were afoot, but now the world of work has been altered forever and companies that don’t adapt will be left behind.

What’s Changed?

Anyone who shifted to working-from-home during the pandemic has seen how quickly businesses can adapt when required. However, the real test of a business’ adaptability is when the company is no longer forced to change. As restrictions ease and life begins to become more like it was, companies that try to reinstate a ‘business as usual’ approach will face serious repercussions.

People have had time to reflect on their lives and how they work, and the results are clear. Research indicates that most employees now expect more flexible working conditions. A recent PWC study found that “seventy-four percent of Australian respondents reported that they wanted a mix of face-to-face and remote working of differing degrees.” 

Flexibility is a key component that employees require. There is also evidence that they are increasingly disgruntled by long working hours and companies whose values don’t align with theirs. Organisations that don’t adapt to these employee sentiments will experience increased turnover.

Ways Companies Can Adapt

  • Understand that COVID-19 has changed the way we work and there’s no going back
  • Create a hybrid model of office and working-from-home hours
  • Empathise with your staff and their individual circumstances
  • Don’t aim for a ‘one size fits all’ model. Speak to individual employees regarding their ideal arrangements and do what you can to accommodate them
  • Be open to employees reducing their hours if they want to
  • Consider a 4-day working week. This might sound drastic but some countries (such as Iceland) are trialling this because there is evidence that supports the strength of this model 
  • Engage employees with your company values
  • Help your staff feel like they are a part of something worthy (such as via charitable engagements)
  • Utilise and ensure there is efficient data management and technology in place so that the barriers between office and at-home work are reduced
  • Offer training for employees in areas such as managing and working remotely
  • Stay connected and check in with staff via video chats and phone calls
  • Consider ways to adapt your office work spaces to the needs of your employees.
  • Be open to hiring remote employees, or allowing current employees to live and work remotely
  • Ensure employees feel valued