- The Solvative Team
The world has changed since the pandemic. The effects of the virus are still severely felt in many areas of the world, with political upheaval and economic instability being only some examples. But how will this change affect people's work? And what does this mean for you, your employees, and your customers?
Work has changed
The way we worked changed for a non-majority of the workforce. Many retail, medical, and essential and scientifically rigorous manufacturing plants stayed open as normal through this pandemic. Only knowledge workers had the liberty of working from home. The pandemic was experienced differently by every person.
This means there will be a total shift in work and how we perceive it. Due to the pandemic, many people were forced into working long hours or taking on two jobs just so they could get by financially. This placed a strain on relationships with family members and friends who had no choice but to stay home due to sickness. But now, this is what everyone does all of the time because of economic pressures such as cost-of-living increases and inflation, which have been steadily rising since the end of 2015.
With more access to technology than ever before through cell phones, laptops, iPads, etc., nobody has any excuse not to work outside their homes anymore. Some companies are even starting to offer work-from-home positions as a benefit when pre-pandemic they did not. However, these same companies should realize that there is no physical separation between work life and home life, and they should allow the utmost flexibility to their employees. Trust the employee, let them decide on their work and home life boundaries, and employers should respect those boundaries.
The pandemic has led to increased workplace flexibility, which is now being looked at as a best practice. Employers have had to be more lenient with their policies and allow for more flexible hours, working from home, and taking time off for illness or emergencies. This newfound freedom has allowed employees to better care for themselves and their families during this difficult time.
This is something we have observed at Solvative as well. While we have always had a flexible work policy, having this be a global event has allowed everyone to learn at once how knowledge work is really done.
However, some companies are still reluctant to change their ways and offer these benefits. They feel that by doing so, they will be less productive or lose control over their employees. But studies have shown that workplace flexibility actually leads to increased productivity and employee satisfaction. What is stopping these companies from making the change?
Working with Empathy
A workplace that values empathy is a workplace that understands and respects its employees. It is a place where people feel heard, seen, and valued. When employees feel this way, they are more likely to be productive and innovative.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. It requires putting yourself in someone else's shoes, feeling what they feel, and thinking from their perspective. When you have empathy for your coworkers, you see them as people first, not just as employees or sources of labor. You recognize that they have feelings and needs just like you do, and you are willing to work with them compassionately.
Working remotely has blurred the line between personal and professional life. Team leaders who work remotely must acknowledge this and place a higher value on their private lives than on their projects at times and organize work deadlines in a specific manner to reduce their effect on the work projects.
Kids, sickness, limited childcare availability all can be issues in a remote team. If anything, this has allowed employees who work at empathetic companies to better manage their personal life amid changing guidelines around their community and the health of their family and loved ones.
What should Employers do?
Employers should keep a few things in mind when managing a remote work environment during a pandemic. First, it's important to make sure that workers are staying connected and engaged. Don't force it - provide ample opportunities for socialization outside of work with different activities. Keep in mind that some employees may have kids and would need to set up childcare to come to after-work activities. Make sure everyone is included - pick a venue accordingly and book extra space or plan for child activities.
Second, employers should ensure that they're providing the necessary tools and resources for employees to do their work. This includes things like adequate internet bandwidth, access to necessary software, and comfortable and distraction-free workspaces.
Employers should also concentrate on asynchronicity in their communications - morning meetings at 8 a.m. are pointless when parents have to bring their children to school. Meetings following the kids' return home aren't productive, either. As much as feasible, employers should concentrate on written communication or record meetings. That way, when your teams have a moment to focus, they can still catch up and not miss important updates.
Last but not least, employers should emphasize empathy in the workplace. This means being understanding and supportive of employees during difficult times - both professionally and personally. It also includes creating a space where employees feel heard and valued.
Finally, employers should be sure to establish clear guidelines for remote work, such as hours of availability and expectations for productivity, and be flexible if those commitments are not met for any reason.
Preparing for the Future
It is important for both employers and employees to remember that we are all in this together. The pandemic has changed how we view work, life, and our relationships with others. Let's use this time to learn new ways of working and living together that will benefit us all in the long run.
As we continue to navigate these uncharted waters, it's more important than ever for employers to focus on creating a healthy and supportive work environment, one that values empathy, understanding, and flexibility. A workplace that is prepared for the future - whatever it may hold.