A new survey of 800 employees across the US conducted by job search engine FlexJobs has provided insight into how workers’ mental health and work-life balance have been impacted over the past several months.
According to the survey, 48% of respondents said their work-life balance is very good or excellent, while 54% with flexible arrangements said they had the emotional support needed to manage their work-related stress.
Additionally, 66% said they would like to work remotely full-time after the pandemic, with a little over one-third stating they would prefer a combination of both remote and physical working.
Research has proven time and time again that remote working is a highly sought-after perk for many employees. However, some studies have revealed that working from home can hinder a healthy work-life balance and lead to burnout due to employees working more than normal.
Overall, if organizations want to continue operating an efficient remote workforce, they must have the strategies in place that value their workers’ boundaries and supporting them when dealing with work and personal stresses.
What Does The Future Hold For Digital Nomads?
With major technology companies and even small businesses transitioning to a remote workforce, the population of digital nomads may experience an uptick as workers look to get their work done from the beach rather than their home office.
Many of these traveling professionals use this perk to travel to new places, while others take advantage of the perk by moving to new, sometimes lower cost cities.
However, working from anywhere is not suitable for all professionals. Typically, this trend is geared more towards with white-collar workers that are financially comfortable, as has been common from Wall Street bankers and the like.
While having a remote working position may satisfy a worker’s wanderlust itch, in the age of COVID-19, leaving the country is not simple. Many countries are not accepting American passports to contain the spread of the virus. Still, some have started offering remote working visas such as Barbados, Bermuda, Estonia and Georgia.
“On behalf of our beautiful island of Barbados, I would like to extend a warm welcome to you,” said Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottle., “Although the COVID 19 pandemic has been a tremendous challenge to people around the world, we believe it has also opened up opportunities.”
Lessons To Carry In A Post-pandemic Workplace
Workers have spent the past six months adjusting to working from home and while this shift may have been jarring at first, employees may miss some of the new perks they have gotten with this arrangement.
Although some analysts are predicting a return to the old, cubicle-laden way of working, it is clear that there are many aspects of remote working that employees want to keep moving forward.
One of the most important benefits to emerge from this work arrangement is flexibility. The traditional 9 to 5 is officially a thing of the past, and workers want a workplace that allows them to choose their schedule. Allowing employees to choose how they work gives them the chance to work at the time they are most productive.
Additionally, workers have increasingly struggled to find a healthy work-life balance, but working from home allows them to shift their schedule as needed to suit their personal responsibilities, like spending time with children or taking care of a family member.
Another benefit of working from home is the obvious comfort of not having to put on semi-formal clothes each day. Relaxing dress code policies going forward, such as implementing a casual Friday, can help improve overall morale in the workplace.
Lastly, regardless of where employees are working, incorporating agility can be key to ensuring workers are as efficient as possible. If working from home, give employees a stipend so they can invest in ergonomic furniture. When in the office, ensure that there are workspaces that accommodate varying work styles, whether that be individual booths for privacy or conference rooms for collaborative opportunities.
Redefining The Concept Of Work
The concept of work has changed before our eyes as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to plague several parts of the world.
According to freelance writer Den Howlett, the pandemic has revealed a fragility about many businesses that was unknown prior to the pandemic. This has opened up the topic of what work is, what it means and how companies should operate moving forward.
For instance, measuring success has evolved from how much time has been put into one’s work, to the actual outcome and quality of work. Before companies were forced to transition to remote working positions, business leaders were wary of adopting these arrangements due to the misconception that workers are less motivated and having no way to measure their productivity. But what does productivity mean?
Time spent is clearly not a true indicator of how efficient a worker is since it does not take into consideration the varying operating methods each person uses. Monitoring employees constantly indicates a lack of trust, thus hindering satisfaction and productivity overall.
What has become evident is the lack of work as a human experience. More specifically, women and people of color have been found to be disproportionately impacted by job losses caused by the pandemic. Even those who have worked remotely for years are experiencing new mental health problems due to the overall uncertainty that continues to float in the air.
Overall, the current situation has undoubtedly been the source of much loss, but also has the potential to provide more opportunities to create a more human-oriented workforce.
How Companies Are Adapting To The New Normal
Flexible office companies have not been immune to the evolution of the workplace that has been occurring due to the ongoing pandemic. Organizations large and small are at a crossroads and have been forced to reevaluate their business models and how to continue supporting their workforce.
At the front of everyone’s minds is the health and safety of workers. Now, companies are in the process of figuring out new design strategies that accommodate physical distancing requirements and installing touchless technology to mitigate any potential spread.
Even the way teams operate has changed, with employees either working from home or across offices outside of the main workplace. This inevitably means more Zoom meetings and less face-to-face interactions, which can be detrimental to mental wellbeing.
Adopting more hybrid work arrangements can lessen the chance of poor mental health caused by loneliness in employees, while also providing employees with the privacy, collaboration opportunities, tools and resources they do not have in their home office.
Having the choice to go to a physical office is key for employee satisfaction, particularly as many thrive off of feeling part of a community. A healthy work culture is the heart of forward-thinking organizations, and now more than ever is that being tested.
Business leaders need to find the best methods to keep employees engaged and supported, whether they are working parents who need to be home, or those who come into the office to collaborate with their colleagues.
New Opportunities For The Future Of Work
The future of work has always seemed uncertain in terms of technology, globalization and flexibility. As millions of businesses worldwide quickly closed their doors and shifted to remote working arrangements, these already anticipated changes happened quicker than expected.
There have been two major transformations as a result of the ongoing pandemic: the workplace does not mean a singular office and leaders have grown an appreciation for their employees’ work and personal skills.
Moving forward, it is essential for business leaders and employees to learn how to operate in a hybrid workforce. This goes beyond working from home and being in the office — other divisions have grown, such as women who carry more childcare responsibilities than men or workers living in smaller apartments opposed to those who have adequate space to create their own home office. This divide was particularly evident between workers who were able to continue working from home, and those who had no choice but to physically be at work.
Organizations are now faced with the opportunity to create a workplace that values employees’ of various backgrounds and skill levels. The talent pool has expanded beyond one city and leaders now can choose those who truly fit the bill for a position, while creating a much more diverse workforce.
If the crisis has taught us anything, it is that changes to how, where and when we work have been long overdue, and while there is bound to be short-term pain, the opportunity for growth is within reach.
Aayat is an editor for the Daily Digest based in Lexington, Kentucky. She has worked with local coworking spaces since August of 2017 and enjoys taking her firsthand knowledge to write about the fascinating, constantly evolving world of flexible workspaces.