In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic created lasting impacts throughout our society. As more communities across the United States re-open, there is the desire to safely resume daily activities. Among those activities is returning to the workplace.
Before the pandemic, several emerging workplace trends showed the direction that many modern offices were headed. With workplace trends ranging from evolving technology to expanding workplace flexibility, the future of work was taking shape.
Thanks to COVID-19, companies have adapted to many unprecedented workplace challenges. Similarly, the trends that were emerging before the pandemic are now being assessed in a new light.
By re-examining these changing trends, companies can better assess how their company moves forward into the contemporary office setting.
Keep reading to learn about the future of work through workplace trends that COVID-19 has helped shape.
Workplace Trends That COVID Helped Shape
Remote Work as a Necessity
In 2017 and 2018, a sampling of American workers examined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 45% of surveyed individuals had jobs where working from home was feasible. However, another survey by the BLS in 2019 showed that only 7% of civilian workers in the United States had access to any remote work benefits.
These statistics show something unique about the trend of remote work before COVID-19. While working remotely was possible for many, telecommuting was not yet a standard in the modern workforce.
This remote trend began to change once it was clear that proper social distancing was more difficult in an enclosed office space. An IBM report showed that 45% of individuals surveyed reported that they were now working from home by July 2020. Of these individuals currently working from home, 80% shared that they’d like to continue remote work in the future.
Employers have begun offering long-term remote work structures to address the growing workplace trends revolving around permanent remote work benefits. The remote work trend will likely continue past the pandemic as more companies grow used to this kind of flexibility.
Employee Wellbeing is Comprehensive
Before the pandemic, employers opened up their employee well-being initiatives to include mental health at work. While one in four adults is affected by mental health, it was not yet a topic openly discussed in the workplace.
Similarly to physical health, emotional wellbeing impacts employee productivity in the workplace. Without the ability to get support from an employer, though, these issues often went unnoticed. One way that companies began providing this much-needed support can be seen in the growing corporate wellness programs trend.
With COVID-19, the need for employers to support an employee’s physical and mental wellbeing and safety was elevated. The way employers support their employers has gained a new focus due to the pandemic.
According to the CDC, the stress that the pandemic causes can be an overwhelming experience for many. Some stress is caused by worry for one’s health, the health of a loved one and even financial stability.
As a result, employers are encouraged to find a way to aid their employees in coping with this stress.
Did you know there is a remote comprehensive mental resilience program that includes health coaching and neurofeedback brain training that companies can take advantage of for their employees, even for those working from home?
The Vitanya Brain Performance Corporate Wellness Program is used by active military, police and fire departments across the nation. It can also be brought to the corporate environment for the same beneficial effects of improved attention, emotional regulation, memory, and sleep, as well as reduced effects of stress and depression. This is a huge breakthrough in remote mental health and wellness support for companies and their employees.
Another unique way that employers can aid their employees is through platforms like LifeGuides. LifeGuides is a peer-to-peer community that provides employees a place of empathy, listening, caring and support. Employers can connect their employees with personalized resources that focus on whatever life challenges an employee may be facing. Thus, the LifeGuides community is able to create genuine human connections that allow employees to safely find the support they need.
How Companies & Employees Support Work-Life Balance
Workplace trends centered on establishing the importance of work-life balance aren’t new. One example of this trend can be found in the emergence of more employers embracing family-friendly office policies. These policies’ popular characteristics are flexible shifts that allow single parents to take care of their personal lives.
Other initiatives from companies who valued work-life balance included resources that focused on employee health, education and general happiness inside and outside of work.
The major driving force behind trends like these are employers acknowledging the impact of non-work stress on employee productivity. If employees felt stressed when trying to schedule a doctor’s appointment around the workday, employers could offer more schedule flexibility. This allowed for a separation of work and personal stress, so employees could remain productive at work and home.
Due to the pandemic, the line between work and personal issues has become blurred once again. According to Christie Struckman, the VP Analyst of Gartner, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it nearly impossible for employees to separate work and home-life concerns.
To find a solution that works, company leaders need to be open to how any given employee’s work-life balance has changed. Managers can have transparent discussions with employees to discover how this pandemic has impacted them and how that can be alleviated at work.
Bringing Teams Together With Technology
The increasing trend of technology use at the office has had an undeniable impact on the modern work environment. Thanks to innovative modern technology, trends like remote work have skyrocketed. Additionally, companies have found ways to engage employees no matter where they might be located through video conference tools.
The trend of technology has been beneficial throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Entire offices can prioritize social distancing by transitioning their operations to a remote environment. Meetings that were once in person can now occur in an employee’s living room with ease.
Despite these benefits, collaborative technology used to aid team communication during COVID-19 has also led to a trend known as “Zoom fatigue.”
If you’ve ever felt drained after attending a virtual meeting, you might wonder why. Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor of sustainable learning and workplace development, has research showing how Zoom calls are tiring us out.
According to Petriglieri, our minds are working harder to process body language and facial cues. Because of this, Petriglieri says that we are unable to naturally relax into video conversations. Another aspect of this research shows the stress that technology hiccups can cause. In a face-to-face conversation, you don’t have to worry about your internet cutting out and dropping an important call.
Finding the solution to this video technology fatigue can seem challenging. After all, collaborative tools that make virtual teamwork easier aren’t going away. Instead, this trend is more likely to branch out to include other tools for communication. If a daily video conference becomes too draining, teams can consider using tools like Slack for live group conversations.
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