Almost two years into working from home since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, commentators have said that in reimagining the future of work, there needs to be a clear consensus on how traditional workplace operations are to fit into new normal work arrangements.
When the pandemic hit in 2020 many employers were forced to reconfigure traditional nine-to-five work schedules to facilitate new remote working and work-from-home arrangements to allow for the safekeeping of staff members and their families from the deadly virus. While some companies yearn for the day when they can have all staff members back in office, social commentators are of the view that this may never fully return and as such, measures including a hybrid workforce could be tailored to match different situations.
With hybrid approaches, employees may be required to be in the office a couple days a week or every other day, while other businesses may require only occasional face-to-face time, sometimes meeting in a centralised location once each quarter. Through such approaches commentators believe organisations and their workers could enjoy the best of both worlds. A McKinsey report has said that the model promises greater access to talent, increased productivity for individuals and small teams, lower costs, more individual flexibility, and improved employee experiences.
“For someone who has settled into the new normal of working from home, going back to office five days a week may not be the ideal. Being able to be home, minus commute time and spending more time with family is a significant benefit for many individuals. However, this may not be the fit for everyone, as there are also persons who can't work from home and may want to be in an office five days a week. Companies in each case should therefore seek to decide on what is best for the staff and their operations,” said Cavel Khan, chief revenue officer of international social networking firm Tumblr.
Kahn, who was speaking on the future of work at a Tech Beach Retreat event held virtually last Thursday, also indicated that companies in factoring the challenges, particularly those surrounding technology issues, may also need to think about allocating more resources to support employees working remotely in the execution of their duties.
“While my company has several offices and in different locations, it also creates the opportunity for employees to work from co-working spaces. The company recognises that not everyone has the facility needed for work-from-home and to be able to operate at their best, and if they can't, then they won't be able to deliver against the company's goals in the way it envisions,” he stated.
The Tumblr officer further noted that while many companies make light of the challenges encountered by employees in getting the job done, “it is something they need to address which should also lead them to finding that budget to provide the level of ergonomics and access to resources needed by staff to get the job done.”
Dr Karrian Hepburn-Malcolm, vice-president of sales and service at Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation, in echoing similar sentiments about what the future of work should, entail also encouraged companies to tailor customised solutions to match the needs of their staff, particularly women whom she said were the ones most impacted in the work-life balance cycle.
“It may have to boil down to a tailored personalised look on the best way of how to engage the workforce given the different circumstances, countries of operation, the demands of the job and the requirements of the organisation people work with,” she stated.