By: Angelica Reyes
Today’s new world of work looks a lot different than what it was pre-pandemic. For some organizations, hybrid work and flexible work models take precedence over the traditional “office”. While the way we work has mostly changed, what employees need to feel engaged, fulfilled and supported to do their best work has not. In fact, it has been amplified.
Earlier this month, Ricoh Canada’s Vice President of Human Resource, Peter Pontone was invited to join as a panelist at the Globe and Mail’s webcast “Redefining Work: Employee health and happiness in the changed economy”. The webcast brought together leading experts in human resources, workplace culture and employee happiness to share what the workplace of tomorrow could look like—and how to get there.
Indeed, the pandemic was a major disruptor of the way we work, and what used to work then may need to be enhanced or changed today. While the last two years presented many challenges for employers and employees, it also taught us to do things differently and “accelerated our understanding, acknowledgment and openness to a flexible work environment,” said Pontone. Therefore, when it comes to the future of the workplace, flexibility will play a big factor, not just in where or how we work, but in being flexible to redefine business processes and practices to keep employees’ well-being top of mind and in giving them a positive work experience. Therefore, what are some key considerations and opportunities for organizations to redefine work and make them better?
Be mindful of the one size fits all approach
Employee mental health declined during the pandemic. While hybrid work offers employees the flexibility to manage their time, many are experiencing burnout. A report from human resources software company, Ceridian, found that 84 per cent of Canadian employees surveyed felt burnout over the last two years. Another recent study by Capterra shows that 69 per cent of Canadian employees who reported a positive mental health pre-pandemic has now dropped to only 47 per cent in February 2022. Therefore, for organizations, there is an even greater importance to support employees’ mental well-being, even more so with burnout and isolation. As employees adapt to the future of work, it is important to continuously communicate with them to understand how they are doing, what can be done to support them and importantly, to “work with each team closely to come up with a model that works for them and stay away from a one size fits all approach,” suggests Pontone.
Defining your purpose
As organizations are exploring a hybrid or flexible approach for their employees’ return to the office, it is worth considering how they really feel about coming back to the office, especially for employees who have predominantly worked from home over the last two years. A recent study by Angus Reid Institute in partnership with CBC found that workers from home are reluctant to return to the office and overall, are more likely to say that their work from home experience has not hurt their productivity. Therefore, when asking remote employees to return and work in the office, it is worth reflecting on what is really the purpose. Is it going to be meaningful and worthwhile for them to make that commute, or will it help make them more productive and fulfilled in their work? Therefore, diving into the purpose and respecting employee needs should be top of mind.
Technology plays a part too
Having the right workplace technology can make a difference in creating a positive experience in the ways employees communicate, collaborate, connect and stay productive. Chances are, you may have a mix of teams or departments collaborating remotely from their home or in the office. While it seems simple, effective communication and collaboration in a virtual setting can be a challenge for organizations, as hybrid work can look different for every business – depending on size, industry and operational needs. Identifying what your future workplace or model would look like and adopting the right workplace technology to support that along with the needs of your workforce can go a long way in fostering better engagement and collaboration.
When it comes to the workplace of the future, there is no playbook or sure-fire way to guarantee a smooth transition. However, being flexible, making the effort to understand your employees’ needs, and not being afraid to acknowledge what isn’t working, and the willingness to adapt helps to pave the way in redefining the future of work – for better.