Here are three changes to the way we work that can positively affect work-life balance for employees around the world.
The pandemic was the beginning of a disruptive era. As we continue to adapt to the changes that COVID-19 brought into our lives, there is one thing that we know for sure: work dynamics are changing and we expect them to continue to do so in 2022.
So, what does that mean for work-life balance?
Here are three changes to the way we work that can positively affect work-life balance for employees around the world:
1. Remote Work
After the world took an unexpected turn, it became clear to many companies that remote work was here to stay. If 1 in 4 employees in the U.S will be working remotely in 2021, it is likely that that number will increase in the new year. Companies like Twitter, Shopify, and Dropbox have already announced they plan to shift to a permanent work-from-home setup. Others are betting on half of their employees moving to remote setups in the near future or implementing hybrid systems with a combination of offsite and onsite work for all employees. Many of these companies see the benefits of non-simultaneous communication, allowing people to work from different time zones, as less stress and more productivity. This can lead to enhanced cybersecurity, greater adoption of cloud-based technology, more savings due to reduced office space, changing performance assessment, more flexible work time, and even more respect for personal time, according to Jacob William 4-Day Work Weeks
Many countries and companies have been contemplating the idea of a 4-day work week for a while. In Japan, for example, Microsoft led an experiment, as part of its Work-Life Choice Challenge project, that involved reducing the work week by one day and saw a 40% increase in productivity. They also reduced the time spent in meetings by implementing a 30-minute limit and encouraging remote communication. The idea has also seen a positive response in countries like Iceland, Spain, and jurisdictions such as Ontario, in Canada. Kickstarter announced in June it would be the latest in a string of companies to implement the 4-day work week, with employees working 32 hours instead of 40. According to the Harvard Business Review, organizations looking to make the change should take into consideration shifting mindsets, define clear goals and metrics, communicate internally and externally, run and assess a pilot, and scale up in order to make a successful change.
2. Massive Job Switching
In the future of work after COVID-19, McKinsey reported that more than 100 million workers will need to find a different occupation by 2030, as a result of high-wage occupations growing and low-wage occupations declining. According to a study by Microsoft, 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer within the next year. “With so much change upending people over the past year, employees are reevaluating priorities, home bases, and their entire lives. So, whether it’s due to fewer networking or career advancement opportunities, a new calling, pent-up demand, or a host of pandemic-related struggles, more people are considering their next move,” says the study.
3. Benefits That Make Sense and Democratization of Opportunities
With the shift to shorter work weeks and remote work conditions, we will likely see fewer office perks and more real benefits that make sense for today’s employees. Ping pong tables and beer taps will be a thing of the past, and discounts on personal things, flexibility with time, travel opportunities, increased salaries, contributions to house bills and retirement plans, and other similar perks will take center stage.
At the same time, the current shift to hybrid work, according to Microsoft’s Work Trends Index, is good for democratizing access to opportunities. It allows companies to hire talent from underrepresented groups that may not be able to or want to move to big cities. On the contrary, companies in smaller cities will have a chance to hire talent with a different set of skills than they had before. Women, Gen Z, and those without graduate degrees are most likely to apply.