How COVID-19 has changed the way we work
Psychological Health

How COVID-19 has changed the way we work
Lessons to learn from the pandemic

The new normal

A global pandemic, swept the world and overnight our lives were changed. A paradigm shift was made as we learnt new concepts like social distancing and redefined old concepts like working from home. We’ve had to adapt to a new "normal" and a new transformed reality. For many of us, our office hours have been shifted to a 'work from home' scenario, this situation may seem to last for the next few months, however, for some it may go beyond…

Working from home is here to stay; even beyond COVID-19. How do we know? 53% of employees want to continue working from home after the pandemic__¹__. Multi-national employers are announcing they’ve wholeheartedly embraced transitioning to work from home across the entire company. What does all this mean for the way we work?

Well, a couple of things:

  1. Flexibility – as more companies successfully navigate the work from home challenge, more are open to offering it as either a part-time or a full-time option. Those who miss interpersonal connections may still have the option to come to the office to work. Employees may be able to choose what works best for them.
  2. Redesign the workspace – if there’s one thing that we’ve learned from all this, it’s the importance of communication and collaboration. This is a lesson that will likely make it back to the office as workspaces get redesigned to facilitate distanced interaction and community engagement; perhaps more conference rooms or collaboration spaces.
  3. Disaster preparedness – having the world come to a stop overnight has made many companies rethink how they will adapt if such a situation were to present itself again. It has forced contingency plans and emergency SOPs. Now we know that the future truly is unpredictable!
  4. Perfecting the home office – when this started, most of us did not have a dedicated space for an office at home, or even a quiet place to take video calls. As time went on, investment in, and a re-engineering of, the home work environment was needed to create a more efficient and effective work space. Chairs, desks, lighting all upgraded. One of the biggest upgrades was internet bandwidth, and this will continue to be an issue for many - 35% of remote employees faced issues during work hours due to bad internet__²__. Many employers are stepping up with financial support for high-speed packages with unlimited upload/download.
  5. Dressing down – as pyjamas became part of the new standard over the last few months, more companies recognise the value of comfort and are adopting a more casual approach to work attire
  6. Increased communication – now that managers have learned the importance of facilitating communication and frequent touchpoints with their teams, it is likely that this will continue even back at the office. Quick catch-up sessions and focused team meetings are the new norm. Gone are the days of 2-hour long meetings with only 10 minutes of productivity.
  7. Video calls – eventhough these are often an inconvenience with either poor internet or finding an appropriate spot, these are very important for open communication and boosting creativity. So as we continue to work from home, quality video calls become an obligatory aspect of communication. In the age of social distancing, video calls, even with colleagues, can help alleviate isolation.
  8. Cost saving – according to US company FlexJobs, the average savings for an employee working from home is in the vicinity of US$4,000__³__. The bulk of this is travel costs, but add in the coffee on the way to work, the bought lunch, and the purchase and upkeep of a professional wardrobe. This represents nearly 10% of the average wage in the US, which for many, is a game changer.
  9. Mental health – the lines between work and home life have significantly blended since the start of this pandemic, and this has taken a toll on employees’ psychological wellbeing. The isolation associated with being stuck at home only exacerbates it. Companies are trying to find ways to be more understanding and supportive of their employees which is hopefully something that will go beyond the pandemic.

Impact of remote working on mental health

What SHAPE can do

SHAPE recognises the importance and the future of perfecting work from home. This is why it assesses 12 areas ranging from employee engagement to the work environment and their collective impact on remote employees. Focused reporting also offers expert insights on how to overcome obstacles that are hindering productivity. Are your employees struggling with isolation? SHAPE can help. Perhaps they need a nudge to become more disciplined? SHAPE has it all covered. Maybe their home office is not up to par? With adept advice, they can SHAPE it the way they want.

SHAPE is your guide to a changing tomorrow!

__¹__Hickman, Adam, et al. 2020. Gallup.Com.

__²__Hannula, Lauren. 2020. Whistleout.Com.

³"Exclusive Insights On The State Of Telecommuting". 2017. Flexjobs.Com.

Psychological Health