For many workers, there has never been a time for greater flexibility and autonomy in their work lives, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced a sudden shift in the world of work. Many workers would like to see some changes to become permanent. Here’s how organizations can view and support empowerment of their workforce, to the benefit of all.
The ability to choose
There has been no one-size-fits-all for workers when it comes to working from home full time, a hybrid model or remaining in a physical workplace. Organizations should work with HR and with individuals to determine the best balance of work and home responsibilities for individuals and organizations alike. Employers will increasingly redesign and revalue the workplace for the best blend of “heads down” remote work along with “heads up” collaboration and creativity. Meanwhile, the continued growth in the gig and freelance economy will continue to redefine what it means to be an employee or worker as well as increase worker choice.
The importance of physical and emotional health
When the COVID crisis began, all focus shifted on keeping people physically safe. But as the months continued on it became clear that the workforce also needed mental and emotional support, especially with growing isolation. This requires a greater role for HR, with more duty of care and leadership that can empathize and understand the needs of their workforce.
An always-on digital life
The increased adoption of social networking sites and virtual communities means that workers’ digital footprint and daily interactions have expanded –– from Slack to Twitter to email and back again. This has enabled an always-on digital presence, often blurring the lines between personal and professional development activities. For organizations, this can mean helping their workforce to adapt, understand their roles and responsibilities, and share ways to help employees switch off and disconnect.
Transparency and equity
Today, workers want more from their employers, including security, sustainability of skills, work-life blend and wellness. They also expect more from the values of their organization such as acting as global citizens and environmental stewards along with other social goals and metrics. Employers that show they are committed to both their workforce along with their customers and shareholders will be able to attract, retain and support the best talent.
Employers and employees are evolving and moving into the future together, and it takes both groups to communicate, understand and adapt to each other’s needs. Moving forward, organizations need to be prepared for and understand the fundamental shake-up of the old work order –– and be ready to take bold, innovative and effective action.