The recent Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the way we do business in a big way. Offices that have never considered remote working were forced to look at other ways to do business. Companies had to make the shift from boardrooms to Zoom. In general, most office-workers experienced a new way of doing things.
In fact, around 29% of New Zealand’s workforce was able to work from home during the height of the pandemic. But with restrictions easing across the country, has the way we work changed forever?
Has the traditional office changed forever?
Advances in technology have been changing the face of business for decades, but Covid-19 gave New Zealand’s workforce an extra push. Perhaps the biggest change experienced by business was the amount of people working from home. There’s no doubt it was challenging, but the change was aided by the acquisition of new communication and collaboration tools. With all the investment in these tools, and with the adjustment period out of the way, will we see businesses continuing down the remote working path?
Some of us love spending our days at the office, while others had the time of their lives working from home. Perhaps Covid-19 will present both employers and employees to find solutions more tailored to the individual.
Building, re-building and cutting costs
Another aspect of post Covid-19 life that we’re not hearing much about is the cost of rebuilding. Firstly, to keep operations running, many businesses made a considerable investment in the shift to remote working. Collaboration and communication software tools, subscriptions to services like Zoom, and in some cases hardware for staff have all put an unexpected dent in the company budget. Not to mention the general economic downturn that’s hit many businesses.
As we start getting back to normal, will employers realise the obvious benefits of a modernised office structure? For example, rather than sticking with an expensive commercial lease for a huge office space, is it more cost-effective to move to serviced offices for essential staff, while others work remotely?
Flexibility and work-life balance is the future
Research from Randstad indicates that work-life balance is the 2nd most attractive value in an employer. It’s only just behind salary and benefits, showing that New Zealanders are keen on more flexibility. Remote working and flexible hours are two ways employers can provide this.
One challenge for businesses who have always been very focused on the clock is to make a shift in how they assess productivity. Naturally, working from home takes eyes off the individual employee, meaning the focus needs to turn to their actual work output. Many would argue this is the way it should be anyway.
While we may not have completely seen the death of traditional offices, we’ll certainly see a positive shift towards more work-life balance. Every company will have a different experience, but once they’re able to complete some analysis of the Covid lockdown period, they may see that productivity was just as high, if not higher than ever. If results can still be achieved with more flexibility for talented employees, we’re confident the way we work will have changed forever.