With employees’ ‘out of the office’ messages now taking on a much more literal meaning, company culture has shifted significantly in recent weeks for teams around the world.
With the coronavirus outbreak forcing many employees into working from home, people are having to adjust to a new working environment. But just how much of this change in culture will remain in place once we return to normal?
Teams may be experiencing some perks from home working, such as being able to maximise their productivity and establish a healthier work-life balance. It’s likely that many employers will want to encourage this to continue, as it will help them to get the best out of their employees. However, while we may also see the increased use of remote working tools such as video conferencing and flexible working hours continue, this could also result in a drop in physical company with the people we work in the same organisation with.
So, what can we expect to stick around once we break through the other side of the pandemic?
Flexible working will become the norm
Before the coronavirus outbreak, we were already starting to see some significant shifts in working patterns. With technology such as laptops and mobile phones enabling our work to become more portable, the demand for flexible working options has been continuing to rise in recent years. A survey from 2019 found that 61% of global organisations currently offer their staff some form of remote working policy, with a huge 77% of people saying that working from home has improved their overall health and wellbeing. With teams around the world now experiencing first-hand how they can balance their work and personal responsibilities around their day, it’s likely that the demand for this type of flexibility will continue to increase.
However, even with flexible working patterns on the rise, the outbreak of Covid-19 has forced many companies who are primarily office-based to have to adapt to remote working on a very quick scale.
Although adjusting to a new way of working can prove challenging, this has also given many teams the opportunity to see from experience how feasible remote working can truly be for them. As teams get used to using video conferencing and instant messaging tools to stay connected, it’s likely that employers will be more willing to introduce flexible working options – especially if they have found the process has been working well for them.
Co-working spaces will become more popular
While we continue to battle the coronavirus pandemic, working from our homes is as flexible as we’re able to be. However, once this is over, working remotely doesn’t necessarily have to mean working from the confines of your own home. As many seasoned remote workers will attest to, the flexibility of working from multiple locations means you can work in the spaces where you feel most productive. For many, this could be the hustle and bustle of open spaces such as coffee shops or dedicated co-working spaces – particularly as interaction with other people can help to inspire and motivate workers to stay focused and productive.
If remote working habits continue to increase, the rise in co-working spaces could see a dramatic shift in our working lifestyles. Commuting time will be cut down, giving employees the opportunity to make the most of their working hours. However, as workers begin to mix up their working environments and step further away from the office, teams could potentially spend more physical company with those outside of their immediate organisation – making a huge difference to who people spend their working hours with.
Video calls will increase
During this time, video calls have become the catalyst for us all to stay connected, both professionally and personally. They allow us to connect with people all across the globe in an effort to replicate that all-important face-to-face communication. As such, this provides companies with a positive opportunity to expand their teams on a global scale, but also keep their local employees connected while working from home. When we think about office culture, this tends to involve water cooler chats, team lunches or after-work drinks. However, the rise in remote working also results in this physical contact between colleagues being removed. Video conferencing, therefore, will become a key component in ensuring strong communication is maintained across the board.
Video conferencing apps like Zoom have already seen a dramatic increase in user uptake since the pandemic pushed many employees to work from home. Although the coronavirus has launched us into making these changes quickly, as companies get used to a new way of working, it’s likely that these tools to help boost communication will be sticking around.
Communication will be the core
As much as there are many positives to reap from this shift in our working habits, businesses will only take up new working patterns if they can ensure their employees are able to carry out their roles as effectively as they would have before. Strong communication is at the core of a seamless and effective workflow, and will likely be the biggest make-or-break when it comes to remote working. However, as long as time and resources are allocated to ensure the necessary steps are put in place, businesses will be able to ensure they are well equipped to effectively implement changes to their company culture.
With many companies now learning from experience how their teams can work together from home, the continued rise in demand for remote working flexibility post-Covid-19 could see a huge shift in company culture. With video conferencing keeping people connected as we choose to work from literally any location around the world, teams will no longer be limited to commutable postcode locations. Fluidity in where we physically work, and who we work with, will play a significant role in the new dynamic of our company culture and could ultimately change our everyday lifestyles as we know it.