For all those employees and employers who are desperately seeking a full time return to the office in 2022 – it is now looking highly unlikely that this will happen. This begs the question – are our pre pandemic work patterns now becoming a thing of the past? Will we ever go back to full time office work?
As the vaccine roll out gathered speed, the majority of people felt ‘normality’ would resume. However, this majority were wide of the mark. New variants have blocked this from happening – and may well continue to do so in the months ahead.
It’s hard to pin down where we might find ourselves in 12 months’ time, but employment and workplace experts are hinting at certain developments.
A 4 day work week? Really?
Could we see a 4 day work week emerge? An expert at Newcastle University Business School feels the 9-5, 5 days a week model is no longer sustainable, due to the “increasing pace of work necessitated by video conferencing software and continued online presence”. Abigail Marks believes “businesses are keen to explore measures that may ‘mitigate’ the over-burdening of employees, whilst hoping to retain this increase in productivity”. This condensed working week will lead to better mental health and an all important healthier work-life balance. But will a 4 day work week suit everyone?
Well being to become a massive focus for employers
Over the last number of years the importance of employee well being has been on the rise. We ourselves in 2468 Group carried out research on this topic. As a company we provide workplace wellbeing for employees – great coffee and refreshment facilities, break out zones and much more. Providing for employee wellbeing contributes to business growth by boosting productivity, engagement, talent recruitment and retention. This has been well established in research over the last decade and most growing organisations have responded to it with a steady growth in levels of investment in employee wellbeing programmes and facilities.
According to Forbes employee well-being is no longer an employee benefit. “Well-being now is an employer’s opportunity to support employees in all aspects of their personal and work lives”. Employee well-being now includes emotional, financial, social, and career wellness.
Yes, wage increases are one way to retain employees, but research conducted by Paychex and Future Workplace found 62% of employees identified well-being benefits as a key factor in deciding whether to apply for a new job. The employee well-being benefits most in-demand include financial well-being and emotional/mental health well-being. The pandemic, leading to lockdowns and working from home has given people and opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to them
The battle for talent continues
According to Glassdoor, the labour shortages and hiring battle faced by companies in 2021, will still be there in 2022. Companies really have to up their game to attract the best talent. As highlighted by us in a previous blog, future-ready organisations understand it’s not what a workplace looks like, but how it works, that matters more. The best workplaces are carefully crafted ecosystems tuned to the needs of their users. These brilliant workplaces will draw willing employees back. At 2468 Group we have seen first hand the benefits of canteen refurbs, the creation of break out spaces and collaboration hubs, refreshments zones, hydration stations and coffee docks. These all help to invigorate employees and draw them back in regularly.
Get used to the hybrid model
Employers must realise that hybrid work is here to stay. Accenture’s survey finds that 83% of workers prefer a hybrid work model and that 63% of high-growth companies have already adopted a “productivity anywhere” workforce model. (Data taken from Forbes The ‘Great Redefinition’ Of Work In 2022).
A recent McKinsey survey revealed a significant increase in workers’ post-pandemic preference for hybrid workplaces — with a fully on-site workplace falling from 62% to 37% and hybrid rising from 30% to 52%.
A Harvard Business School survey found that 81% of employees who have been working from home through the pandemic either don’t want to go back or prefer a hybrid schedule.
If companies take on board that their workforce want a more flexible work arrangement, and then put a plan in place to facilitate it, it will demonstrate that their health and well-being is being taken seriously.
What we learned in 2020 and 2021 is that it’s difficult trying to predict what may happen in the future. What we do know is the key points mentioned above are now more relevant and important than ever.