Abstracting the lessons: what did and didn’t work
Many changes that trickled down to the workplace during covid-19 were forced, and a result of businesses’ continuity and contingency plans. Not all of them reeked of success and some of these changes might revert to their pre-pandemic states.
There are some crucial lessons that can inform the strategy for creating the workplace of the future:
1. Remote work can be a productivity-booster but a collaboration-killer.
At least 76% employees work as productively remotely as they in physical offices, while a 90% decrease in the number of in-person interactions in digital-first, remote work models is expected to negatively impact collaboration.
2. Asynchronicity, or the ability to coordinate work throughout time, is a must-have
As in international teams work remotely across time zones, there is an increasing need to coordinate work across geographies and the different timezones .This can be achieved through tools such as Kanban boards and digital communication channels like Slack.
3. The gig economy has its own upsides and downsides.
While contract workers can help reduce pressure on the company’s bottom line, boost flexibility, and bring ad-hoc and specialized skills on board, quality and consistency can be a major concern that is rather difficult to navigate in the long run.
4. Remote work saves time but can negatively affect the employees’ mental health
Humans are social mammals at heart, and video-meetings that last days on end might become stressful. Moreover, certain types of interactions – like performance reviews or team strategy and brainstorming sessions – are negatively impacted by remote work models based on digital technology. Replicating the same experience and level of interaction digitally is challenge.
5. The changing nature of work has implications on an organization’s long-term workforce management strategy.
While digitalization, AI, robotics and automation can inject speed, increase efficiency and boost quality assurance into businesses’ operating models, such transformed models call for new (digital) skills and capabilities and an altered skill and talent profile that must be achieved by digital upskilling and reskilling at scale or hiring new talent.
Through these lessons, senior leaders must align their overarching business strategy to an evolving landscape of work and reimagine the meaning and purpose of the workplace in the post-pandemic era, with a lasting focus on digital tools and remote working.