It’s easy to be wise with hindsight. By May last year it was apparent to lots of people that the once the pandemic was over our working practices, which had changed immensely during lockdown, would not return to what we were used to beforehand, as I noted in a recent video. As as a consequence, almost all of us will have to make considerable changes in our working lives. And, as we all know, change is stressful – of which more tomorrow.
Now while many people may have instinctively felt all this, we had no means to prove it. Peace is a successful business, but, like most others, we’re not quite big enough to conduct worldwide studies into working patterns and the psychology of the different generations’ approach to work. Fortunately, we don’t have to, because Microsoft (who are definitely big enough) have just done so. They could have saved their money. Virtually everything they have discovered was along the lines of what I, and many others, intuited from our observation of our own businesses and those of our clients.
Microsoft’s 2021 Work Trend Index is a study of more than 30,000 people in 31 countries, interwoven with an analysis of trillions of what they call “productivity and labour* signals across Microsoft 365 and LinkedIn.”
Essentially, what they’ve found is that after last year’s enforced shift to remote working, business is now embarking on a further round of disruptive change. This second wave of change is what they call the move to hybrid work – a blended model whereby some employees work at home and others in the office/workplace. It’s flexible working on steroids.
The reasons why this is so disruptive are not hard to find. Microsoft found that, “over 70 percent of workers want flexible remote work options to continue, while over 65 percent are craving more in-person time with their teams.” Consequently, two-thirds of businesses are preparing to re-design their office workspace and investment in technology to enable hybrid working has gone on apace during lockdown. As MS conclude: “The data is (sic) clear: extreme flexibility and hybrid work will define the post-pandemic workplace.”
For the construction industry, with its clear demarcation between office and site, it’s the former that will bear the brunt of these changes. Office/remote based workers want the best of both worlds. Giving employees the flexibility to work when and where they want is relatively straightforward, but of course your staff will also want all the materials/tools/paraphernalia they were previously used to in the office to be similarly available at home. At a time when businesses are struggling for cash, this is something the CFO probably could do without: but it’s something he or she will have to find time and money for: or risk having their staff get even more fed up than they are at present. Which just happens to be the subject of tomorrow’s blog.
Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment