Over the past five years, anyone in the business world has been subjected to countless presentations about the “Future of Work.” Analysts have made predictions about what the future of work will look like. Companies have held brainstorming sessions and think tanks to prepare for the “Future of Work.”
Too bad we all got it wrong.
While the world was focused on building success around a future of work where robots and automation took over the daily tasks of our current workforce and caused us to reimagine workflows and staffing, very quietly COVID-19 was planning to throw a wrench into it all.
What really happened to the Future of Work we thought was coming
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, overnight the world moved into a state of quarantine, and everything we knew about work exploded. Claims processing companies and call centers had to build real-time remote solutions on the fly. Restaurants needed to adjust to real-time delivery and take-out opportunities, and almost every business needed to reimagine a world where supply chain delays would change everything, from product availability to transportation accessibility and beyond.
Simultaneously, for workers, the Future of Work became very personal. Individual health and safety risks, family health and safety risks, economic struggles and work-from-home challenges came to the forefront.
In a split second, the Future of Work arrived and it became very different based on personal needs. No one was really ready for that.
Living in a personal world of work
Today, we live in a personal world. One where over 85% of us work remotely, attend school remotely and limit travel to select, safe, local locations. Essential workers, who keep the economy moving, are faced with personal decisions on a daily basis relating to the risks involved in protecting their own health and their families’ health. In many cases, there is little ability to avoid this risk, so they simply hope that their PPE will be enough.
While seemingly challenging, living in a personal world also has its upside. Many have started to build savings due fewer opportunities to spend on entertainment. A number of people have reconnected with family and friends they hadn’t had time to see before. And still others have found remote working more productive and quite enjoyable. There is no magic bullet because, in today’s world, the future of work has become one where companies must adjust to each employee’s personal needs and accommodate them.
According to a recent survey from DailyPay relating to work, now that we’re in the home office, we’re actually working longer, harder and being even more productive.
- According to a DailyPay survey that polled employees whose companies give them the option to work remotely — the majority said they work longer hours and claim to be more effective.
- Of the respondents, 60% said they work more hours from home, and 33% of those said they work eight or more hours per week remotely — that is, more than 400 extra hours a year. Meanwhile, 48% said they are more effective when working remotely compared with only 14% who claim they are less effective.
So does the future of work translate into the eradication of offices permanently? Not exactly: only 25% of the respondents expect to be working from home for the foreseeable future. And for the essential workers who kept the economy running and saved people’s lives — and almost certainly for teachers who soon will venture back into the classroom — working from home might not ever be a full-time reality.
Using the fundamentals of AIR to reset around the Future of Work at your company
Now that we know what the Future of Work really looks like, we can make some key decisions that will keep our companies growing. Using the fundamentals of AIR, we can make our workplaces personal for the masses:
- Authentic: Survey all employees to understand their needs. Do you have a large group of parents with young children? Do you have a number of younger workers living alone, looking for a workplace where they can interact? Do your employees need faster access to resources or support? Lead them to a local food bank, or provide on-demand pay to give them the ability to take control of their income and make you look like the hero that you are.
- Inspirational: Set a vision and goals for your employees so there is a future to work toward. For essential workers, while we started out offering bonus pay, they really crave confirmation of secure and safe working arrangements and opportunities to have time off, with pay, if they or a family member is afflicted with COVID. For those working remote, provide ongoing communications about when and how a return to the office could look, if you are considering that at all.
- Relatable: Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. Realize you are not going to be able to guess what your employees will need. Understand there is no one-size-fits-all solution for your entire staff. Be flexible, understand every need and take it seriously, and strive to create solutions that evolve as your employees do, letting them know you are here with them every step of the way.