This is not the first time we have talked about the effects of the pandemic, which is not surprising, considering the impact it has had on our lives and all that it has forced us to review. When it came to work, it was no different. Changes that seemed to be more distant have become an immediate necessity and our relationship with work has undergone (and continues to undergo) transformations.
It is obvious that evolution is inherent to life in society, so although the pandemic accelerated the process, it was not the only motivation for these changes. The constant advance of technology and the greater concern with issues such as mental health already demanded a deeper analysis of how we are dealing with work and how we can improve this relationship. And we can already tell that the changes are here to stay.
But what is different? What are the plans and expectations for the future? And what are the challenges we will have to face?
Employee health and well-being
We have already posted an article dedicated to the importance of the debate about mental health. According to WHO, in its World Mental Health Report, published in 2022, almost one billion people were living with mental disorders in 2019, and about 15 percent of adult workers deal with some mental disorder. WHO, together with ILO, estimates that 12 billion workdays are lost annually due to depression and anxiety, which represents a value of almost $1 trillion to the global economy.
Therefore, companies are looking for ways to help their employees, with strategies to change their culture and work environment. Investing in a healthy space where people feel welcome and part of a purpose increases productivity greatly).
Flexible hours and days have been a trend in recent years. People increasingly value having the freedom to adjust their schedules according to their realities, and no longer having fixed, immutable hours.
Companies all over the world, including in Brazil, are testing a new model: 4 days of work a week, with no reduction in salary. In the UK, the experiment proved to be a success: employees reported improvements in sleep, mental health and their personal lives. Out of the 61 companies that participated, 56 intend to continue to implement the model, and of these 56, in 18 the change will be permanent. Only 3 do not intend to keep any element of the model.
Systems that are more malleable let the focus on the results, not the hours worked. Productivity is dictated by the quality of the work done, not the quantity.
Home office is here to stay. After the momentum it gained in the pandemic, many companies chose to continue with this model (or else a hybrid regime), so there’s the need to create an appropriate place to work. Employees expect companies to invest in support to improve their home office, with financial help to buy materials and equipment, such as notebooks, corporate cell phones, chairs, desks, as well as help with electricity and internet bills.
It is also a concern to establish boundaries of when work begins and ends, since. because there’s not a specific work space, people can lose track of time and extend their hours.
Technology at work
Technology is making its way in all fields. From immersive digital spaces in the metaverse to artificial intelligence performing tasks, technological advances are part of work environments.
A World Economic Forum report published in late 2020 predicts that, by 2025, automation will be the cause of the extinction of about 85 million jobs in 15 industries and 26 countries. In contrast, 97 million jobs will be created in areas such as healthcare, fourth industrial revolution technologies and content creation.
Gartner has released its “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2023” report, which we have already talked about, and one of their predictions is that the metaverse will be present in several sectors and, by 2027, more than 40% of large companies around the world will be using it to increase their revenue.
Integration between sectors
Collaboration is the watchword. A 2014 study by Stanford University showed that people persist in a task when done in group up to 64% longer than when performing the same task individually. Also according to the research, collaborative work improves individual performance, increases innovation and decreases fatigue.
Having diverse teams that communicate with each other enriches the process with different visions to develop the activities. In addition, teamwork strengthens the bonds between employees and creates a healthier space to work in.
Therefore, companies are looking for ways to help their employees, with strategies to change their culture and work environment. Investing in a healthy space where people feel welcome and part of a purpose increases (and greatly) productivity.
Soft skills and liquid skills
Soft skills are being more and more demanded by companies. They represent interpersonal behavioral skills used to solve problems and achieve results. Some examples are effective communication, emotional intelligence, flexibility, self-management, and collaboration.
Other skills that are gaining attention are liquid skills. In a scenario of constant change, the ability to not only learn new concepts, but also unlearn what is no longer applicable, is of great value to professionals.
There are still many tools and concepts that are going to revolutionize the work environment. if you want to evolve as a professional, t is important to always be up to date with the news that will dictate the way we work in the future.