9 To 5 No Longer: The Future of Work (Part 1)

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The Future of Work - Employee Experience

The last two years have been an ordeal for most businesses. While some businesses have succumbed to the situation and decided to wait out the situation, most of them chose the option to adapt. As the world starts opening up and the economy with it, these companies now face a dilemma again. This time, it’s not about the present, but what the future of work will be.  

In this blog series that we have titled “The Future of Work”, we will tackle different things that companies and businesses should consider when deciding their own future of work. We believe that by taking note of these factors and acting upon them early on, you stand the chance of stopping a Bottleneck in your business down the line. 

We’ll be discussing multiple facets of the business and how they may change in the near future. From client interaction, employee management, to the very systems you use to run your company, everything is bound to change as we settle into this new frontier. 

Breaking the 9 to 5 Habit

Nowadays, even Fortune 500 companies are saying goodbye to the work week routine and adapting to the work-at-home routine. Employees are saying that working from home has made their work-life balance much better. These employees say staying at home in comfortable clothes is much better than going to the office in a suit, sitting rigidly on an office chair under harsh lights.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to employees wanting to work from home on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. Braving traffic, having less time to sleep or relax, and even being able to eat a decent dinner are just some of the reasons. Being at home and on flexible hours have allowed these people to slow down and not be at a constant state of rush. Even managers and CEOs are having the time of their life, getting to spend more time with their families while they work.

A lot of businesses, big or small, have decided that employee experience should be top tier since they make up the bulk of the work environment. Though it has been widely acknowledged that it’s harder for companies now to hire employees since training would be done via a computer screen. It’s hard for them to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of would-be employees if they don’t see them in action. Thus, in the future of work for human resources,  employee retention has a higher priority than constantly looking for replacements.

That said, flexible work hours benefit the company as much as it does the employee. Recorded productivity is at an all-time high for companies around the world, and more employees are expressing happiness over the current setup.

The Three-Factor Definition of Employee Experience by Jacob Morgan

Jacob Morgan is an author, a keynote speaker, and a TED Speaker. According to him, there are three major factors that would make employees WANT to go to work.

1. People

Employee Experience

If the company used to have a toxic culture, their employees would be thankful because they wouldn’t have to deal with it at home, or at least, interactions with toxic colleagues are kept to a minimum. If the company culture is enjoyed by everyone when they still used to have a physical office, employees are expecting that it is kept in the virtual office.  

There’s also work flexibility in which employees are spending less time commuting and more time at home with their families. They’re loving the flexible hours because they’re now able to strike up a work-life balance which allows them to be efficient workers and responsible family members at the same time. 

future of work - employee satisfaction

“Working from home makes it much harder to delineate work time from personal time. I encourage all of our employees to have a disciplined schedule for when you will work, and when you will not, and to stick to that schedule.” – Dan Springer, CEO of DocuSign 

Managers are creating more connections with everyone working from home. Temp checks are done more often, and more apps are utilized to hold meetings, one-on-one informal sessions, and short check-ins. It’s more important to catch up with employees now that they aren’t visible at all times. 

Work progress is also monitored via these apps. Working from home might not end with the pandemic, but instead, breed a new lifestyle of onsite and offsite work.

“The most important keys to remote work at a startup have been weekly stand-ups. At Hive, we all get on Zoom once a week to chat and give shoutouts to the team. We also have regular 1:1s with video on. Having your video on totally changes the tone of a meeting and is critical for a startup” – John Furneaux, CEO of Hive 

Distance Becoming Less of a Factor

Speaking of a hybrid work lifestyle, since there are no geographic restrictions when it comes to hiring, companies are now taking advantage of the work-from-home offer. They are recruiting employees from beyond their immediate area. This is a brilliant way of getting talented and highly skilled workers from off-state or even offshore, and creating a myriad team of individuals. Companies that opened up to take in international talents are growing at a rapid rate. Having employees from various time zones also allowed them to accommodate clients from overseas, which allowed them to be recognized as an international brand. 

However, working from home has some setbacks. Employees are experiencing anxiety and stress due to the uncertainty that the pandemic brought. Managers are more concerned now about their employees’ well-being, and even CEOs are getting in on the action by helping their constituents set boundaries and manage a work-life balance.

2. Technology

The internet and a lot of apps are now playing a central role in the future of work, making everyone still feel included and connected despite the lack of proximity. 

Since there is no physical office anymore, managers and supervisors have created digital headquarters to ensure their people stay in touch with each other. When companies were still transitioning to working from home, it was just individuals sending reports and updates to their supervisors. 

Managers have revolutionized collaboration apps to have their employees remain connected to their colleagues, encouraging spontaneity and non-work-related conversations, much like pantry talk.

Virtual offices are now dominating the webspace, linking not only people within the company, but businesses around the world as well. Communication is made easier with apps like Slack, and task delegation apps such as Asana.

3. Physical Space

future of work - shared workspaces

Corporate headquarters are now being broken down into smaller satellite offices nearer to certain blocks of employees, but what does it mean for these HQs when the pandemic ends and onsite work resumes? Because everyone is now wary about their health’s safety, it’s projected that offices will have more spaces and more lax schedules, employing the hybrid work lifestyle more.

“The future of work we envision allows for infinite virtual workspaces that will unlock social and economic opportunities for people regardless of barriers like physical location. It will take time to get there, and we continue to build toward this.” – Andrew Bosworth, VP Facebook Reality Labs

In case the pandemic ends and employees are required to render onsite hours, there will be more precautions in place, as required by law and the ones that employers undertake to ensure that their people are protected. It not only boosts the employee experience but contributes highly to social responsibility and the general welfare as well.

Employers are also showing support for home offices, encouraging their employees to set up a designated space for their office equipment. They’re sending ergonomic chairs and desks to their people, giving the same level of comfort they provided at the physical office, perhaps even more.

The New Employee Experience Structure

Employee Satisfaction

Since the global shift to working from home, priorities have changed for the majority of companies. No matter what business they have, or how many people they employ, they shifted from being pro-business to pro-employee. 

Zoom’s CEO, Eric Yuan, put it quite perfectly, saying that companies have to look at it from the employee’s perspective.

Top priorities such as globally diverse teams, flexible work hours, working anywhere the employee prefers, take precedence over hiring people from the immediate geography, fixed schedules, and working at the physical office. Technology is optimized to accommodate more check-in sessions with individual employees and teams. 

Virtual offices are busier, as managers, supervisors, and even CEOs utilize collaboration platforms to simulate an office environment.

“We are seeing an acceleration of the trend to democratize the workplace… During these last few months, digital technology has flattened hierarchies, with everyone connected and getting information at the same time, and so many channels for employee input and involvement in decision-making in real time.” – Diane Gherson, CHRO at IBM 

Workspaces are now personalized, unlike the standard, harsh settings of the physical office. Employees are encouraged by their superiors to decorate and personalize their space according to what stimulates them. Also, in the short time they’ve been working from home, it’s been proven that they’re more effective and efficient in their chosen workspaces than in the office.

Leveling the Playing Field

Talent is now gauged solely on an individual’s ability to perform tasks well, and educational attainment is not a top requirement anymore. Proximity is a thing of the past. No matter where the employee is in the world, they are still accepted and valued by companies, just like their local counterparts. 

“Telecommuting, one of many forms of work-life flexibility, should no longer be viewed as a nice-to-have, optional perk mostly used by working moms. These common stereotypes don’t match reality – allowing employees to work remotely is a core business strategy today… We need to de-parent, de-gender, and de-age the perception of the flexible worker.” – Cali Williams Yost, CEO and Founder of Flex+Strategy Group and Work+Life Fit

In this new future of work, employees are not behind managers and company owners anymore. They are standing beside their employers at the frontline, taking on clients and handling the company together. A proud moment of any business is when they see how effective placing their employees first is. The employee experience is not just about letting individuals know that they are valued. It is making them feel that they belong and communicating that to them regularly. 

Companies still have a lot to learn about the work-from-home lifestyle but the current shift has made it a little easier for CEOs and managers to give the employee a great experience in the workplace. Businesses that have adapted to these new models are now at the forefront of their field.

Up Next: The Future of Work on Company Culture 

We continue our discussion about Employee Experience, this time focusing on the company as a whole, rather than its individuals.

Company Culture has always been a huge factor in making a cohesive workforce or the deterioration of it. So it’s important that we take a look at how we can foster company culture, despite the current physical divides. 

Want to know if your Company Culture is up to the task? Find out more on the next part of our blog series, The Future of Work. 

Want to know what Millennials and Gen Zers think about the future of work? Check out our recent Live with Bottleneck episode to find out!

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