THE FUTURE OF THE WORKSPACE

Now more than ever, companies are looking to create safe and productive working environments for their employees, while also understanding how covid has affected the way they work and the way they’ll continue to work in the future. 


As a result of the pandemic, many businesses are implementing and trialling a range of new working practices that will work best for their employee’s work-life balance, mental well-being, health, and productivity. 

FLEXIBLE WORKING



A flexible work arrangement is a way of working that suits an employee's needs, through having flexible start and finish times and working patterns that allow for staff to work around their personal lives.


Flexible working won’t work for every business, so it’s key to look into how a flexible working environment would change the way your company works. A trial period to see how this sort of arrangement functions within your business could help, or conversely, hinder.  

Flexible Working may include:

  • Changing from full-time to part-time work

  • Changing working hours to fit in with, for example, school hours, college hours or care arrangements

  • Compressed hours, that is, working your usual hours in fewer days

  • Staggered hours, which allow you to start and finish your days at different times

Benefits of flexible working:

  • It can increase employee productivity.

  • Reduces stress and fatigue among employees. 

  • Promotes a healthy work-life balance, that overall is better for employees and the company as a whole.

  • It can attract a wider pool of talent into the company and keep staff retention.

The disadvantages of flexible working:

  • Flexible working often means working from home

  • It can blur the home / work-life balance

  • It can result in communication difficulties if hours of work are drastically different from other colleagues.

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The idea of a flexible working arrangement has been around for years now but has been seen a stark uptake since the start of the pandemic and has now evolved and mixed to intertwine with hybrid working, creating a relaxed and comfortable working situation for all colleagues involved. 

HYBRID WORKING



Hybrid work means that there is a healthy mix of office-based and remote work, a collaboration between colleagues, departments, sites, and external contributors.

Embracing a hybrid workplace means that you are investing in your colleagues’ well-being and safety and indirectly improving the focus, productivity, and efficiency of the collaboration in your business.

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Benefits to hybrid working:

  • You’ll be more productive and save on the time you are normally commuting.

  • You can own your time and balance between office tasks and family life.

  • You can alternate between informal office moments and quiet days of focus at home.

  • You are still able to use the best office technology (e.g. presentation & meeting tools) when it suits you.

  • You can implement social distancing more easily when necessary.

 

Disadvantages to hybrid working:


  • Working remotely can stunt an employees’ opportunities for promotions.

  • Remote workers work longer hours which can lead to burnout.

  • A disconnect between in-office employees and remote employees.

compressed work weeks & cut off times



More and more companies are also trying to implement compressed work weeks and cut-off times to give their employees the best work-life balance. 


A compressed work week usually consists of the idea of a 40-hour week being compressed into fewer days, usually four instead of the regular five. Compressed work weeks can provide a simple solution for balancing high workload periods when they occur within a company. 

The most common type of compressed schedule is a four-day work week in which employees work four 10-hour days.

Another popular model of the compressed work week is the 5-4-9 work schedule, which is based on the two-week working period. An employee works 9 hours per day, but then in the second week takes the Friday off. Basically, in two work weeks, an employee works 9 days for 9 hours. This allows employees to work longer hours on some days and accrue enough time for an additional day off.

The main idea of a compressed work week is for employees to experience a better work-life balance, but it can also be beneficial for companies balancing high workloads.

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Advantages of a compressed work week:

  • An additional day off affords employees a better work-life balance.

  • The employee keeps full pay and benefits.

  • Reduced commuting time and costs.

  • Fewer interruptions and higher productivity in non-regular office hours.

  • Increase in total staff hours during high peak workloads by overlapping schedules

Disadvantages of a compressed work week:

  • Some positions may not be suitable for longer hours because of an increased risk of injury or errors

  • Could cause understaffing in some time periods

  • May create difficulties in scheduling meetings

  • Employees could be working unauthorized overtime

  • A longer schedule could cause lower productivity at the end of the day

Businesses are also looking into implementing cut off times for their employees, to keep them from working past their fixed working hours, reducing stress, and making sure that the work being produced stays at a high quality. Implementing cut off times for their staff shows that businesses care about their employees’ mental health and work-life balance. This can also include enforcing cut off times for emails, so that employees don’t experience burnout and fatigue from working later hours. 

There are many benefits to implementing new working strategies, and many companies are starting to weigh up their options and decide what is best for their staff. Not every strategy will work for your business, so it’s best to implement a trial phase and see which method of working is the all-around best decision for your staff and colleagues. 


Will you be trialing any of these strategies in your business?