The New World of Work

As lockdown slowly eases us back in to some sense of (adjusted) normality, more employers are looking at new and adjusted ways of working – from the extreme end of companies such as Twitter stating that employees can work from home “forever” if they wish, to the more moderate planned office returns towards the end of 2020 for many organisations including various banks and technology companies.

The current flexible working trends are particularly suitable for staff who are understandably anxious about returning to offices, while at the same time allowing room for manoeuvre for companies introducing new social distancing measures and policies. Adjusting pre-COVID-19 office regulations to fit the new norms of workplace design, work processes and office hygiene is leading many businesses to evaluate the use of their expansive – and expensive – office spaces. Future office work spaces might become ‘leaner and cleaner’, with smaller numbers of employees in the office at any given time and working from home becoming far more widespread, aided by modern technology and robust video conferencing platforms.

Flexible and remote working is not only affecting in-office working patterns and productivity, but also external factors such as long commutes, which in turn affect health, mental wellbeing and the greater environment. During lockdown, many have discovered that working from home is not only possible but also more efficient. The trust between employers and employees has shown that it can in fact work when taking technology, actual productivity and goodwill from both sides into account. This has led to less commuting to work, greater time flexibility for employees and as a result a cleaner environment due to less traffic on the roads and a general slowdown across all types of transport.

While there are many positive aspects to our measured return to work in a post-lockdown era, the future is unfortunately not clear cut yet and many new working practices will simply have to be tried and tested to gauge their long term efficiency and suitability. People are also understandably anxious about job security as furlough schemes come to an end and a semblance of normal working budgets need to resume in an economically-challenged business environment. It will have to be a slow and careful process, as we may enjoy the flexible working and the cleaner air, but we certainly aren’t out of the woods yet.