The Post Covid-19 Future of Work

4 May 2021

It appears Covid-19 will leave a permanent mark on our professional, as well as personal, lives. Although we are yet to fully understand the impact on the world of work, some of the changes we may see include:

Pre-pandemic there was a move towards more flexible working. It was estimated about 30% of employees had some ability to work from home. This may have been higher in the digital economy. However no one predicted the scale or speed at which business leaders would have to adapt to remote working. 

Government imposed restrictions during the pandemic meant quickly mobilising a remote workforce. Many companies who did not offer working from home before the pandemic often cited concerns around productivity as a primary reason. 

Contrary to expectation, a study of small businesses showed almost 30% of United States workers who had not been able to work remotely before the pandemic were more productive working from home. Studies in the UK had similar results, with most employers feeling productivity was the same or better during lockdown. 

A study by Garner in mid-2020 showed in the post Covid-19 workplace 48% of employees are likely to work remotely at least some of the time. This is going to have a knock on impact on employers. There will be a need to: 

  • Develop and maintain a remote working culture
  • Find balance for employees who prefer to work from an office environment 
  • Keep flexible working relevant to employee wants and needs

As digital communication and flexible working is incorporated into day-to-day life, it is likely to impact HR recruitment processes in businesses of all sizes. Not only will many HR teams use digital communication tools to conduct assessments and interviews, there may also be a move towards the use of automated technology for the earlier stages of the recruitment process. 

Many businesses, particularly those scaling quickly, may rely more on software to source, screen and arrange interviews with candidates. This is particularly useful when it comes to improving diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

In parallel with the pandemic there was a global wave of social justice movements. They highlighted the inequalities that minorities face when it comes to accessing education, healthcare and in the workplace. Diversity and inclusion should be a focus for employers. Use of automated technology may help this process as it can assist in limiting unconscious bias from playing a role in the recruitment processes.  

Not only that, if your business is hoping to recruit in 2021, 76% of active job seekers reported a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating job offers. 

Lockdowns have provided unexpected silver linings,some employees no longer face long commutes and may have more flexibility around when and how their work gets done. 

Overall, the covid-19 pandemic has been a very challenging time for most employees. The cause of difficulties varies from illness, bereavement, and isolation to lack of childcare. One survey of the employees of a software company found 42% of workers were burned out. 

Concerns from the World Health Organisation and the World Economic Forum around the impact of long periods of isolation from family and friends on global mental health make it essential for employers to put the ‘human’ back in Human Resources.

Employees are likely to flock to employers who gain competitive advantage by encouraging empathy in the workplace and provide support to those who need it.