The great big reset for our health and wellbeing. Let’s put aside the need for cost savings and bottom lines.
The way we are working has completely evolved – like it or not it has. We can focus on office vs home vs remote vs hybrid until the sun comes home but if we really look at what matters then this is a great opportunity. The ability to be more flexible in our working ways means that we have more control over much more. Our life-work balance and ability to focus a little more on us. Our own balance. I remember when I used to get looks from co-workers for going for a walk during the day. Why can’t you make a call while walking by a canal?!? Though I draw the line at “netwalking”.
The idea of better health and wellbeing stems from more flexibility but also more time. We shouldn’t really be in the office five days a week anymore and therefore immediately we save some time in terms of commuting. Clearly this will vary from person to person. We can make use of this time rather than absorb it into our working day. No commuting does not mean an extra hour of work. An example, on my home days I do a morning HIIT class or head to the local pool – I would have done this before but it would be more of a challenge and feel like I had to get into town earlier to fit it in. That’s just me though, people can go for walks or be more adventurous headed for runs.
To create this better life-work balance though requires a much more broader environment than simply not commuting and that in itself creates challenges – some factors that certainly I consider are:
- There is a reflection of living in a smaller town (or village) or even communities within larger cities – new residential complexes are creating these feelings. More and more people have moved out of larger cities over recent years but where they move to, whether a town or village, need infrastructure investment to ensure they can fully thrive. We live in a world where connectivity is key. Smaller communities provide a different way of living. Arguably they provide a higher quality of life with amenities such as schools, shops and leisure facilities close by. These locations can thrive. They certainly need improved connectivity if they can achieve their true potential.
- This brings us to that eternal gift – work life balance. Or is it life work balance? Which should we seek to achieve – work around our life or life around our work. I think it’s a balance. Yes there are freedoms and flexibilities we can look to expect but a business still needs to function around some structure – getting the balance right so that we can enjoy life more should be easier for us all now. Having the open conversations to ensure both sides understand what is needed will make for a good harmonious relationship.
- The great debate between synchronous and asynchronous work is raging. Some see the office as a blocker to getting work done as you spend time in pointless meetings. Others see this structure as a way to be productive the rest of the time. There are tools that really support asynchronous work – we use some ourselves. They allow all the team to work on the same document at the same time (or rather not at the same time as the case should be).
- There never should have been scenarios where people were assessed based on how many hours they put in (irrespective of the quality of the output) – but it happened. It happened a lot. The focus should be on productivity – what is the output. Do they deliver, consistently, what is needed. Giving people this trust will have a positive impact on life-work balance. They may even want to come to the office to be productive and to compliment working remotely.
- There is talk about people doing more hobbies and activities while working from home. I’ll be honest I haven’t heard many of my friends saying this. This is potentially a missed opportunity or simply a reflection that people are still just settling back into a routine. I have always been a keen gardener and it’s nice that it’s now always rushed late at night – fresh raspberries at the moment for lunch is a lovely treat!
- And lastly, historically there has been a trend of using purpose built conference centres and other spaces for hosting training and bringing teams together. As an organisation you don’t want the cost of maintaining unless you have a significant number of employees. I enjoy hearing about “retreats” to bring the teams together. This feels a good benefit for remote organisations as it acknowledges the need to bring the team together at some point during the year. For larger organisations it creates an opportunity but may mean existing space is converted into destination space.
So what does the future hold? It hopefully allows the most diverse and inclusive teams to thrive. Those based on skill and ability and not solely on presence. The talent pool is much wider now and this provides the opportunities needed.