Five ways COVID proved positive for our work lives
The pandemic disrupted our lives in every conceivable way – and many of these changes will be with us for the foreseeable future.
From a greater concern for our physical and mental wellness to the ways we work, the effects of Covid have been seismic for us as individuals and for society as a whole.
There has been a silver lining, however, when it comes to our work lives, and we look at some of these benefits below – and whether they’re likely to be long-lived.
1) New ways of communicating and collaborating
The need to isolate and the closure of many businesses meant that employees and managers needed to find new ways to work together, communicate, and collaborate on shared tasks. There was no longer the option of in-person meetings or conferences.
As a result, businesses embraced innovative new ways to maintain the flow of information and keep communication levels high: video meetings and interactive online group chats are just two examples of these. In terms of the former, these meetings were supported by tech that enabled documents and files to be shared online during the meeting and for the session to be recorded, negating the need for minutes to be taken.
The benefits of video meetings continue to be significant for teams and businesses: physical location no longer matters, so turnout tends to be consistently high. They also allow for staff members or guest speakers from all over the world to attend and mean that documents can be shared and edited collaboratively during the meeting.
2) Better home life balance
Homeworking became the norm for many people as a result of the pandemic. While this often brought its own unique set of challenges (trying to work taking care of the kids or needing to turn a corner of the kitchen into a makeshift office, for example), it also enabled people to find a way of working that worked for them.
Night owls suddenly found themselves able to complete projects or tasks during the evening hours, while parents could pause to enjoy a family lunch together or to play with the kids before getting back to work.
This change was – and continues to be – as beneficial for employers as it is to employees. A happier workforce tends to be more productive, less stressed, and physically healthier. It’s easier to recruit and retain employees where home or flexible working is offered, too.
3) Focus on mental health
Covid took its toll on the mental health of the nation. Health anxieties, combined with fears about our financial situation, plus the effect of the lock-down and periods of self-isolation, created a perfect storm that left many struggling with our mental health. Diagnosed cases of depression and anxiety skyrocketed during the pandemic as people struggled to navigate a totally altered world.
A by-product of this has been a new general focus on the importance of mental health, with both the government and businesses keen to ensure the wellness of the workforce.
To this end, more businesses than ever before have introduced initiatives to support the good mental health of their employees; from offering flexible working hours to providing massages in the workplace to ensuring staff has access to high-quality spaces, the changes have been profound.
4) The embracing of cutting edge tech
To survive the pandemic, businesses needed to think outside the box to survive and embrace the sort of cutting-edge technology that would allow for this. Organizations that may, out of habit, have been relying on older devices and systems suddenly found themselves needing to get to grips with new software and processes to enable effective remote working or to continue to connect with customers and clients.
Now, on the other side of Covid, this tech has revolutionized many of the businesses that embraced it and have made for a better working environment for staff.
For example, the incorporation of cloud-based software and suites of tools alleviate the frustration of having to figure out the latest version of a shared document, while voice messaging capability integrated into email apps allows for quicker, easier communication.
5) Shorter working weeks as a possibility
Until the pandemic, 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday, was considered to make up the standard working week. Covid, however, threw everything up in the air, and remote working proved that employees could be just as productive – if not more so – when based at home rather than in the office.
The result has been a general shift in how the working landscape should look: there is no longer a one-size fits all mentality that dictates working hours and patterns. This has led to many businesses offering their staff shorter working weeks.
In some cases, this is achieved through the employee working, for example, three longer days to have an additional two days a week off, or the employee may simply request, or agree, to work a shorter week for less pay. Either way, the choice has been appreciated by many workers.
The future of work
With so many benefits to both employees and employers, the Covid-wrought changes we’ve looked at above are likely to be here to stay permanently. The chance to reshape the very concept of work is one that’s been picked up and run with by businesses and individuals alike, and for all the privations of the pandemic – it’s been a much welcomed silver lining.