How the workplace is being permanently changed by the pandemic
WHAT'S THE ISSUE?
For some people, the current changes to our working practices are long overdue. Kate Lister's company Global Workplace Analytics has spent many years analyzing the data to consider the pros and cons of home and office working for both employer and employee.
And, as she tells The Agenda with Stephen Cole, the pandemic has made changes to our working lives which she thinks will never entirely change back.
MEET THE EXPERT
Kate Lister is president of Global Workplace Analytics, a research and consulting firm that helps employers understand and prepare for the future of work.
Her expertise is focused on workplace, workforce, technology, and other trends that are changing the who, what, when, where and how of work. She has been helping public and private sector employers implement telecommuting and flexible work strategies for more than a decade.
WHAT DOES LISTER SAY?
Flexible working, says Lister, saves people three of their most precious commodities: "their time, their money, and their health or sanity." She says that in the U.S. alone, telecommuting can save the average worker around 14 days a year and up to $5,000 in cash.
She adds that any permanent change in working location won't mean the end of the office – but will change the nature of how and where companies work.
"The physical space will be more collaborative, more tuned to people's social needs," she says. "The office will become that place for collaboration and cultural immersion that people need to feel like they're part of an organization."
"My own prediction is that about 25 to 35 percent of the workforce will be working from home at least one day a week in the future," says Lister. "And that's up from just over five percent 13 or 14 months ago."
And she says it's high time that companies realize that employees don't need to be seen to be productive. The future is simple: "People work best when they understand their goals, when they have the tools and the technologies they need to meet those goals."
ALSO ON THE AGENDA:
• Heejung Chung from the University of Kent's school of social policy, sociology and social research explains how there could be real benefits to the new working normal – especially in bridging the gender pay and opportunities gap.
• Yasuhiro Kotera, academic lead in counseling, psychotherapy and psychology at the University of Derby, considers how employees and employers will have to work together to ensure the transition out of pandemic working practices is good for everyone.
• What about the flexible co-working space? Mathieu Proust, WeWork's general manager for the UK, Ireland and emerging markets, discusses this underused halfway house between the office and our homes.