Office workers in a post-COVID world

William Cornwill - 29/07/2021

The world is never going to operate in the same way again. Big statement, and I suppose it will return to some level of normality many years from now. Yet the flexibility of working from home, avoiding the daily commute, and enabling a true balance between home and work life, for some, has proven too great a thing to give up.

As the world becomes more vaccinated and starts to consider returning to some level of normal, will the typical office worker desire to return full-time to the office or would they prefer a hybrid model? How do we continue to provide this flexibility and maintain a sense of absolute connection and engagement to the organisation for whom we work?

New working hours arrangements

There are numerous research papers that have looked at how reducing the number of weekly hours worked can lead to productivity gains and conversely “much has been written… documenting the extent to which longer hours of work per day or per week tend to undermine a worker’s job performance, including productivity per hour.”

A reduction from the typical 38-hour week to a 30-hour week has been shown to provide an increase in productivity while allowing the employee to maintain high-levels of flexibility in work and life balance and an overall reduction in stress levels, ultimately leading to a much happier and healthier employee.

With the flexibility that has been gained from working from home, many office workers will express a reluctance to return to an office-based environment, at least on a full-time basis. One of the biggest challenges businesses will face is how much of the workforce should return to the office at the same time. While governments have mandated targets such as 25% of the workforce may return after lockdown, how do we practically ensure this? One way is to create teams that will attend the office one day per week and work from home for three days per week with the fifth day being a rostered day off. Creating five teams will provide an organisation with a returning workforce of 20% onsite.
 
Shift Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
1 Office (6h) Home (8h) Home (8h) Home (8h) RDO
2 Home (8h) Home (8h) Home (8h) RDO Office (6h)
3 Home (8h) Home (8h) RDO Office (6h) Home (8h)
4 Home (8h) RDO Office (6h) Home (8h) Home (8h)
5 RDO Office (6h) Home (8h) Home (8h) Home (8h)
 
Staying connected and engaged

Long before COVID-19, we saw a flurry of new digital tools designed to create modern ways of working. With the onset of COVID-19, organisations were forced to rapidly increase their digital transformation and adopt these modern future digital tools. Tools such as Microsoft Teams enable workforce collaboration and remote team meetings, which have now become second nature. Even in a modern world with Microsoft Teams, employees can at times feel disconnected from their organisation. Microsoft is addressing this employee engagement problem with the creation of employee experience components called Microsoft Viva (Employee Experience & Engagement | Microsoft Viva). Microsoft Viva brings together communications, knowledge, learning, resources, and insights into an integrated experience that empowers people and teams to be their best, from anywhere.

Viva Topics (US$4/person)

Discovering information about the organisation, such as people, resources and company project information is made easy via topic pages and topic cards – connecting the employees to the important information across the business.
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Viva Insights (US$4/person)

Looking to become more productive? Then this tool will provide the information you need to see where and how you use your time effectively. Managers can also obtain a summarised view of the productivity of their teams.
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Viva Connections (Included with Microsoft 365)

This is the main connection between your employees and your organisation. Think of it as the modern Intranet connection surfaced from with the modern collaboration tooling of Microsoft Teams. Leaders can connect with employees via company town halls, and employees can access everything from company news, policies, and benefits.
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Viva Learning (US$4/person)

With Viva Learning, employees can easily discover and share everything from training courses to microlearning content. And, managers get the tools they need to assign learning and to track the completion of courses to help foster a learning culture.
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Whatever happens in the future post-COVID, I still say the world is never going to operate in the same way again, with employees having the desire to maintain the flexibility of their working arrangements, new models to support some level of returning to the office and potential to adjust working hours to gain efficiencies. In any sense, organisations will need to adopt modern employee engagement experiences to ensure their staff are connected and engaged.

Please reach out to Kiandra if you would like to discuss modern employee engagement to support new ways of working in a post-COVID world.
 

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