As vaccination efforts globally continues to accelerate, organizations are starting to rethink about the future of work post-coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Business executives have varying permutations on how work should look like in the future.
For example, Twitter chief Jack Dorsey announced last year that the social network firm will let many staff work from home indefinitely, not just until Covid-19 is no longer a looming threat. In June this year, global consulting firm Deloitte told employees they can work from home forever.
On the other hand, Google is changing its work-from-home policy as it looks to continue its current work-from-home arrangements until September but has allowed employees to return voluntarily since May.
Others opted for optional remote work arrangements. German firm Siemens announced in July a remote work policy that aims "to enable employees worldwide to work on a mobile basis for an average of two or three days a week, whenever reasonable and feasible," according to the company's statement.
Several global companies already announced their long-term remote work policies that spans even after the pandemic. From Facebook, to Hitachi, to JPMorgan Chase, these employers are riding the new wave of positive press associated with allowing employees to work from home and the benefits that can be realized from it, such as less commute, more time for family and fitness, and increased productivity.
The remote work policies of companies come in different forms, according to the survey of BuildRemote.co. Here are the differences in these policies.
• Optional: Employees have the option to work from home or the office.
• Partial: Some employees, based on role and situation, can work from home.
• Remote first: The processes required to work remotely lead the company's operations, with in-office processes coming second.
• Fully remote: The company does not have any physical office locations.
• Hybrid: The company plans to have employees working from home part of the time and in an office part of the time.
These policies are already giving us a glimpse into the future of work post-Covid-19. Fact is, according to the recent Accenture Future of Work Study 2021, 83 percent of workers surveyed said a "hybrid model would be optimal." Hybrid, in this study, means the "ability to work remotely between 25 percent and 75 percent of the time".
Furthermore, those "who had a hybrid work model during Covid-19 had better mental health, stronger work relationships" and were more likely to feel better off as a result of working for their organizations. They also experienced less burnout than those who worked entirely onsite or entirely remote.
Related to this, we will witness the expansion of contingent works in the future, as part of companies' move to streamline costs. A Gartner study shows that 32 percent of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure. This presents challenges to human resource leaders who will need to evaluate how performance management systems apply to these workers.
On the other hand, employees need to develop new skills at a much-accelerated rate. This consists of soft and hard skills such as complex problem-solving, critical thinking, cognitive flexibility, and empathy, as I have emphasized in my previous articles. The latter skills – empathy – will probably be the most important skill as the complexity of the future will bring out new stress levels among people, and this skill among employees will help bring out the best customer experience or employee engagement.
Other hard technological skills such as programming and interacting with digital technology effectively are projected to grow by about 20 percent over the next ten years, according to the Forbes. "To help in shifting these skills over time, workers will also need to build their capacity to adapt and build an ability for lifelong learning given the increasing pace of change."
As the future of work will be more complex so will organization be in general. Business leaders need to tweak the performance management of their organizations, to consider the increase in contingent workers and the transition to remote work. Organizational complexity likewise complicates career development, reskilling programs, and organizational structures.
It will be a moving target for business leaders from now on. They need to be cognizant of the nuances in the nature of work and be constantly experimenting on how to adapt to these changes.
The author is the founder and chief executive officers of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is Fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation. He teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at [email protected]