A new report on workforce trends shows that now is a crucial time for employers to get hybrid working right. If they don’t, they risk losing valued and experienced staff.
The 2021 Workforce Trends Survey Report: Workforce productivity lessons from Covid-19 by Advanced, says that businesses are trying to find their own ways to strike the right balance between home and office-based working.
The research was carried out online by Research Without Barriers between 11 June and 21 June 2021. In total, 1,058 UK employees in decision-making roles responded.
Also included are findings from Advanced’s subsidiary company Clear Review which, in May 2021, surveyed 1,010 UK workers. These workers have worked from home during the last year and are not yet back at their usual place of work.
What Future Trends Will Businesses See In 2022?
The report reveals that employees are changing their expectations of their employers.
Things that are shaping the future of work include:
- Multi-tasking is no longer a thing
- Working from home doesn’t mean a good work/life balance
- Entry-level and younger employees might need more support working from home
- Managers are under more pressure than ever
- Hybrid working needs careful planning
Insights from the report show that employers will need to change their perceptions of working from home.
Allow Employees More Time To Complete Tasks
As the report says, multi-tasking has always been seen as essential to many job roles.
However, it is not an efficient way to work. Some researchers say that multi-tasking actually reduced productivity by up to 40%.
Further, while work might get finished quicker by multi-tasking, it is not to a high standard. The report says that focus, clarity and simplicity are essential for more effective and efficient working.
This extends to working without distraction. Of the respondents, half (49%) said they have a dedicated workspace when working from home. A quarter work from their living room.
Because of distractions, 22% say their day is never spent fully on actual work.
Working from home isn’t easy
While working from our homes offers us flexibility, it’s proving to be a double-edged sword, says the report.
Over half (54%) of respondents said that their employer had expected them to do something outside of contracted working hours as a matter of urgency. This proves that when at home, the lines blur between work and home.
Employees are also struggling to switch off from work.
Luckily, the report highlights that European countries such as Ireland, France and Germany give workers the right to disconnect. Employees can refuse to respond to communication outside of working hours and at weekends.
What’s more, there is no fear of being penalised for doing so or being overlooked for a promotion.
COVID-19 Generation Need More Support And Mentoring
The research acknowledges that due to some 16 – 24-year-olds having their exams cancelled or learning online, generation COVID has suffered due to the pandemic.
For those entering the workplace for the very first time, there has also been no in-person onboarding or training. These new starters have had to build working relationships with colleagues online rather than bonding in person.
“Moving to a new location for a job may have involved setting up home with strangers, sharing a house or flat with people who were all possibly jostling for a quiet space where they could work from home,” says the report.
Also, 64% of 18 – 24-year-olds and 66% of millennials say that they have been asked to
perform urgent tasks outside of working hours, more than the average of 54%.
“This suggests that some managers expect younger employees to put in extra unpaid hours, and perhaps implies that lack of experience, confidence, or job security, makes it harder for them to refuse,” explains the research.
When it comes to being managed and mentored, young people have struggled again. Only 37% of 18 – 24-year-olds say their manager has introduced regular check-ins since working from home over the last 12 months.
“Regular check-ins are important as a fundamental way to engage with employees and also to monitor how well they are coping with their work, as well as identifying actual productivity issues,” says Advanced. “Performance management tools give managers a clear view of the way an employee is working and how much additional support they may need.”
Managers Are Feeling The Pinch Of COVID-19
Due to teams working from home, many managers are telling Advanced that they have had to change their leadership style.
Half (48%) say they are spending more time providing reassurance and feedback. Four-out-of-ten are giving more flexibility on deadlines and the same amount are providing clearer direction of tasks and projects.
Managers are also at risk from burnout. Employers need to introduce strategies that help them get the job done, without having to resort to working extra hours out of contracted time.
Give Employees The Right Tools
The right tools support effective performance, says the report.
“43% of people in our survey say that the business software and apps available to them at work increase the flexibility of their working day, while 34% say they help to increase their productivity and 29% say they improve team collaboration,” says the report.
However, employee attitudes towards the workplace will play a part for employers when it comes to identifying the most useful digital tools.
The company’s survey said that 18% of workers haven’t missed anything at all about their workplace. Of those that do, it was the social aspect and their colleagues that they missed.
Advanced recommendations taking the following approaches to help employers who hybrid work:
- Think in tasks, not roles
- Tech that helps and not hinders
- Reduce distractions for employees
- Set clear boundaries
- Promote focus
- Support younger employees
- Develop leadership skills
- Consider whether meetings work