Will Covid Permanently Change the Way We Work?
Written by Victoria Bacon
The corporate world changed drastically in 2020 and as we enter 2021, it looks like we are continuing along this path.
Over the last few years, we have watched companies make gradual steps to change the way we work. We have watched tech start-ups challenge and shake up the market with their flexible ways of working and creative incentives – but the standard foundations and structures still remained.
Coronavirus was the gamechanger – every company in every industry found themselves in an unfamiliar and unpredictable environment meaning they had no choice but to adapt and act fast. Many organisations that had never dreamt of having a fully remote workforce were compelled to redesign the way they work or face a near certain death.
It is interesting to take a step back and look at some trends. Over the years it has increasingly become a candidate market. Interviews which were once very much a one-way street took a turn for the better and became a two-way conversation. Companies had to strengthen their employee value proposition to beat the competition and people were looking for that main selling point of a true “work-life balance” environment – meaning true flexibility and freedom in the way they worked. This last year has given those words real meaning and highlighted what “flexibility” really means.
When the pandemic hit, people found they were now juggling home-schooling or caring for loved ones, whilst still fulfilling their day-to-day work responsibilities. In many locations governments were only allowing people out for 1 hour of exercise a day, which again, meant people had to change their normal work schedule to fit exercise in. Companies found the need to shift their expectations of a 9-5 working day to facilitate and support their employees to cope with these changes.
Now that people have experienced this flexibility and freedom to their working schedules, is it something companies can go back on when we return to some version of “normality”? Given we are entering a “new norm” and a vaccine is on the horizon, perhaps now is the time that the strict 9-5 is a thing of the past.
It’s not to say that we won’t follow a similar structure but once given such freedoms this last year, it would be nice to think there is a silver lining and lessons learned to make work more progressive, and be treated in a way that trusts we will achieve the requirements of our role within our own schedules.
At SilverRail, we are doing just that. We are challenging the old way of working to match our values of having a growth mindset, working together to achieve our mission whilst still ensuring support and flexibility for our team in an uncertain and difficult time. We have set up co-working environments and hubs that our people can work from when they wish; we also empower the team to adjust their working hours to suit their home life; to choose to work from the office or from home and even from any location for a period of time. In this way, the changes can be seen as a new ‘perk’ instead of something which has been forced upon us by the pandemic.
Last year we had team members who were based in an office pre-Covid, work from Italy, South of France and Spain to name a few. Our team had time to enjoy new hobbies, more time for their wellbeing and much missed quality time with family and friends. Shouldn’t this be what life is all about!?
We understand the importance of supporting our team and that we work to live, not live to work. Family, health and wellbeing take priority and now more than ever, we truly are Stronger Together (another company value!).
Times are changing – all you have to do is look around you to notice the difference. Will other companies make a similar decision? Will the corporate world ever look the same? Or is this the beginning of a permanent shift in the way we work and the expectations we have for our teams?