What's Employee’s Wellbeing New Normal

April 1, 2021

2021 has been a strange year so far, hasn’t it? We’ve moved past the initial shock of Covid-19, with many of us accepting that the changes that the pandemic has brought about are here to stay, at least for now. These changes affect how we all, as employees, interact with the companies we work for. It is, of course, a two-way street – employees reacting to this new workplace situation & their employees having to rethink what ‘workplace wellbeing’ looks like for their employees in 2021.

‘Zoom fatigue’: Remote work and lockdown

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom. Thas has been the buzziest of buzzwords during this time period – nothing defines the remote working lifestyle better than checking in with your colleagues via video call. The term “Zoom Fatigue” refers to the struggle that many employees have with the remote-work lifestyle. Over video calls, it can be sometimes hard to communicate with others effectively, and many are craving face-to-face interaction.

Working from home can also have significant effects on an employee’s work/life balance. When you are working from home every day, your home and personal life suddenly begin to merge with your work life. Furthermore, offices can also provide access to plenty of non-desk-based activities, such as a gym, break room, and soundproofed meeting rooms. Indeed, a recent Airtasker survey found that 29% of remote workers struggled to maintain a proper work-life balance, compared to only 23 per cent of office employees.

Whilst this is an unavoidable situation, with few alternatives, over lockdown, will this impact how we work once the offices are open again?

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The new hybrid work dilemma – is it the future?

Working from home. Working at the office. Working in your garden. We’re all over the place these days when it comes to our working location of choice. Many, right now, think that the regular 9-5 week may be confined to a thing of the past, a historical relic.

So, what does this brave new working world look like? Here, the key phrase is ‘hybrid’ – a mixture of working remotely from home and going into the office. Sounds perfect, right? Well, the actual benefits might be less-than-clear. For example, Darren Murph, Head of Remote at GitLab, recently spoke with Techradar Pro and cautioned that businesses might be heading blindly towards catastrophe: “Hybrid working is going to wreck a lot of companies; it’s going to create a lot of chaos and friction,” he told the online publication.

With people leaving the expensive central areas in their droves, commuting will be the order of the day. Further, commuting may turn into multiple-day activities – with people coming down to London on a Monday, staying and working until a Tuesday or Wednesday, and then spending the rest of the week & weekend back home with their family.

Therefore, this new work/life balance will create an exciting opportunity for those who supply accommodation services, who will look to cater to those overnight commuters. Work-focused hotels, pod hotels, and specialised services such as Pop & Rest all seem well-suited to serving this new type of customer.

Examples of great wellbeing practices

Recognising that these new circumstances raise some major challenges, some companies have decided to up their game to look after their employee’s wellbeing. For example, you have Johnson & Johnson, one of the world’s biggest companies, who have embedded a focus on workplace wellbeing into their overall work culture, with VP for Total Rewards Susan Podlogar recently saying that; “Having your employees at their best and fully engaged is a business issue – it’s not just a nice to have.”

The social media scheduler, Buffer, has taken an open approach to address mental health issues within the company, with CEO Joel Gascoigne often tweeting about his own personal mental health state, as well providing access to online therapists for its entire remote workforce, along with the introduction of the ‘Unsick Day’ – a day off work that is focused on preventative care. Finally, there is our own National Health Service – the world’s biggest employer. Various NHS trusts have been running positive wellbeing activities, which affect both the mind and body after research found that positive employee wellbeing is linked to better patient outcomes.

What to expect in the coming years

So, the 9-to-5 seems like it’s on the way out, soon to be replaced by alternative working lifestyles. However, it’s not entirely what the ‘9-5 replacement work week’ will look like. There may be a few different ways of approaching ‘hybrid’ working as a result. However, what does seem clear is that employee well-being will now be a key driver of this change. Companies that look after their employees well, along with service providers who focus on maximising people’s wellbeing, will be the big winners of this new, unprecedented situation.

If you believe that your staff could benefit from getting access to rest & work pods to nap, sleep and work peacefully, reach out to our team. Installing pods create flexible, practical, and socially distant spaces for remote workers.

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