If 2020 and subsequently 2021 have taught us anything, it is that office work might never look the same again.
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Across the globe, millions of companies, from enormous corporate titans to SMEs, had to close their office doors and still keep projects on track, with the help of some vital tools like VPNs, Zoom, Teams or Google Hangouts and comfy chairs, workers were homebound.
Suddenly the eyes of the senior-most CEOs and team leaders were open to a whole world of possibility. And so were the eyes of the workers. Office workers in multiple fields saw that they could work perfectly well from home. That the work-life balance that had been so strained before was now levelling out. In fact, just maybe, there was more to be explored.
While the consultancy and flexible working area has been explored and exploited by journalists, freelance writers, business coaches and more - it promises something exciting for other industries.
For most, returning to a daily commute in and out of the city every morning and evening isn't welcomed with open arms. Legal workers for example are exploring new avenues to break free from the large corporate firms to explore a new and modern way of working as a consultant.
Legal Companies like Excello law offer opportunities to still operate as a solicitor or lawyer covering many of the day to day tasks leaving you to work as a free agent though their sister site passionforlaw.com. It is predicted that many other careers will take a similar path in the future changing the work landscape forever. If one of the longest standing professions can tackle it, then maybe it’s time for everyone else to follow.
The key questions are -
what do the companies get from remote workers?
what do remote workers get?
One of the most important statistics to note about flexible working is that the productivity of workers (who worked from home) increased by 13%. According to a Stanford Study, there were more working minutes because people took fewer breaks and fewer sick days.
The study spanned nine months.
Before 2020 companies often believed that if workers were working from home, they were more likely to procrastinate or produce less work - that hasn’t been the case.
The perk of flexible working is that there is a change of scenery from office to home. The office shows a significant increase in completing smaller admin tasks, or those deemed ‘boring’ (2012 study).
Another notable perk for companies that employ a flexible working policy is attracting a higher set of talents. Qualified people are more likely to apply to a company that offers a flexible working approach.
A CIPD case study noted that a Government study found 92% of young people want to work flexibly, and thus newly qualified talent wouldn’t consider a position without it.
Workers also benefit from flexible working. According to Stats Canada, 50% of the workforce will be millennials in a few years, and millennials value job satisfaction over salary. Further to that, in a 2016 study, 79% of employees reported that they were satisfied with their flexible work-life balance.
When removing the commute, workers are given an extra hour or more per day, channelled into their family or hobbies - they have a better work-life balance.
Flexible working typically leads to happier workers due to these factors.
Work - reinvented
In previous years, the most significant disruptions were growing trade links across the globe and new technology. In 2020 the disruption was the first of its kind in modern times.
Millions of workers were asked to stay at home and given the equipment to do so. Companies had to look at their business models - then pivot and adjust as quickly as possible.
The physical aspect of many jobs were drawn into question. How vital is it that 300 people sit at a computer in an office each day? And more importantly, what does it look like if they don’t?
The fiscal benefits of a workforce that stays at home is hard to ignore too. Reduced company travel costs and the downsizing of offices.
Offering optional use of the office space, with the occasional face-to-face meeting, seems to be the option for most companies.
But what about the worker? An autonomy to their work was offered in a way that most companies didn’t have before.
Their employers trusted them to get the work done and deliver it to as high a standard as in the office. Since employees can complete work when they are most productive, the output and quality were higher.
Of course, always being on time for a Zoom call is a must, though.
After spending months arranging a home office, collecting comfortable but intelligent clothing, and creating a work schedule that works for them - when faced with the prospect of going back to the office, many people have reconsidered their positions.
Demonstrating the ability to work efficiently and effectively from home is a valuable skill. Combined with the time to search for meaningful work roles, with flexibility or the ability to consult in mind, leading us to what we are calling the great resignation.
The Great Resignation
A combination of multiple factors led thousands of employees to hand in their resignations or actively seek other means of employment - and it is still happening.
Working from home has given employees the time to consider their current working situation. A Work Trend Index survey reported that 41% of the global workforce considered handing in their resignation and quitting their current role.
Among the reasons were that employees wished to work remotely, with flexible working options, or work for companies they believed in.
The future of work is bright, and it’s more impactful than ever. A shift in how companies should and will treat employees is happening right now. The workforce is seeing that they hold a substantial amount of power and are using it.
Demonstrating to employers that not only do the workers benefit from flexible working, remote working, freelance hires, and consultancy - but they companies do too.
For companies to stem the flow of the loss of their top-performing staff, they’re going to need to change ‘the way things have always been done’ and be leaders in ‘how things can be done in the workplace to benefit everyone’.