“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
Businesses have seen a lot of change during the last few years due to the pandemic. These changes are a mixture of things that have happened to businesses, and also ways in which businesses have had to adapt to the circumstances to survive.
However, even though the pandemic seems to be on the way out, it is unlikely that certain things will return to the way they were. This is, in part, because adaptions made during the pandemic have opened our eyes to more efficient, more conscious and more mindful ways of conducting things. But it is also worth bearing in mind what the people working for you now want from you as an employer. Any conscious business leader will have realised that some changes may have to stay, some of which benefit the employer, some the employee, and some both!
1. Workers Want Flexibility
Although being locked down was universally haled as being very tough indeed, it did give some workers flexibility. Working from home often meant that people could manage their own time and balance it with other things that needed doing; picking up kids, bringing the shopping in, going to doctor appointments… that kind of thing. The fact that employers were happy to offer this flexibility during such a tough time has proven to employees that a more flexible work/life balance is possible. You can work flexibly and still get everything done that needs doing. It is possible! Therefore, many people are going to want more flexibility going forward.
2. The Eye-Opening Experience of Working from Home
Working from home has also opened people’s eyes to things they now have time to enjoy. Without the commute, the financial burden of work travel, and less time wasted procrastinating and attending needless meetings at work, workers have found more time to enjoy leisure activities. Perhaps they have managed to finally get their home decorated. Perhaps they have reconnected with a long-lost hobby. Needless to say, I don’t think an appetite for working from home is going away any time soon.
3. People are Still Nervous About Covid
Of course, we saw big changes in protocols around testing people in order to allow them to work at all. Again, although we are moving forward through what feels like the latter end of the pandemic, people are still nervous about Covid, and it is still a threat. You need to be sensitive to this, and maybe stay vigilant about the changes to testing protocols. Don’t throw out the masks and PCR tests just yet.
4. Different Things Are Important
We are undeniably part of a culture that believes, in some sectors anyway, that work is everything. However, during the pandemic, many people reconnected with family, and hobbies and simpler things. People found themselves asking questions like, ‘Do I really want to work until I drop?’, ‘Do I really need to keep climbing that ladder?’, ‘Does work actually make me happy?’. Conscious businesses should have this shift in attitude in mind when thinking about how best to attract and provide for employees.
5. Virtual Infrastructure
Video conferencing and remote working, as previously alluded to, is going nowhere. If you were making do as regards your virtual set-up, then now might be the time to consider upgrading to a more reliable and permeant virtual conferencing solution. So many industries have managed to cut down rental costs, travel costs, and wasted time through video conferencing, so it is very unlikely that it is something we are going to see die out with the pandemic.
6. Do You Still Need Your Office Space?
If you, as a conscious business, are planning on keeping up the home-working trend, and therefore have fewer people in the office, do you need the same amount of space that you had before? Perhaps you have had an empty building waiting to be filled back up with workers post-pandemic… but now it’s time to consider whether that is actually likely to happen. If you are a business, on the other hand, that has already given up its office space due to Covid, it may not be worth finding a replacement.
By Chris Thomson
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