WCI, Inc
July 1, 2020

Sweeping Workplace Changes in the Post-Pandemic World

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in pivotal shifts in attitudes and expectations among workers and leaders, as both call for permanent changes in how and where we work, workplace relationships and future skills, according to new research from the Adecco Group.

"The world of work will never return to the 'normal' we knew before the pandemic struck. The sudden and dramatic change in the workplace landscape has accelerated emerging trends such as flexible working, high-EQ leadership, and re-skilling, to the point where they are now fundamental to organisational success, said The Adecco Group's Chief Executive Officer, Alain Dehaze. “As many countries emerge from the acute crisis phase of the pandemic, employers have an opportunity to 'hit reset' on traditional workplace practices – many of which have remained largely unchanged since the industrial revolution. This research highlights that employee attitudes have shifted and gaps between workforce expectations and entrenched labor market processes have been exposed. As we step into the new era of work, now is the time to establish better norms that will enable a holistically healthy, productive and inclusive workforce into the future."

The research revealed that the working world is ready for a new "hybrid" model, with three quarters (74 percent) of workers surveyed saying a mix of office-based and remote working is the best way forward. The universal ideal of spending half (51 percent) of their time in the office and half working remotely (49 percent) transcends geographies, generations and parental status. And company executives agree, with almost eight in ten (77 percent) C-suite leaders saying businesses will benefit from increased flexibility.

Another stark finding could signal the end of the hours-based contract and 40-hour week. More than two thirds (69 percent) of workers are in favor of "results-driven work," whereby contracts are based on delivering against business needs rather than working a set number of hours. A high proportion of C-suite executives (74 percent) agree that the length of the working week should be revisited.

The pandemic has also demanded a new set of leadership competencies and these expectations are expected to accelerate a reinvention of the modern-day leader. Emotional intelligence has clearly emerged as the defining trait of today's successful manager, but the soft skills gap is evident. Over a quarter (28 percent) of those questioned said their mental well-being had worsened due to the pandemic, with only 1 in 10 rating their managers highly on their ability to support their emotional health.

In a similar nature to flexible working, the findings demonstrate a universal appetite for mass upskilling. Six in 10 say their digital skills have improved during lockdown, while a further two thirds (69 percent) are looking for further digital upskilling in the post-pandemic era. A broad range of skills development were identified as important by the workforce, including managing staff remotely (65 percent), soft skills (63 percent) and creative thinking (55 percent).

Finally, the findings highlighted the importance of sustaining trust in the new working world. Companies have risen to the challenge of supporting their people during the crisis, and as a result, trust in corporations has increased. In fact, 88 percent say that their employer met or exceeded their expectations in adapting to the challenges of the pandemic. And with this increased trust comes increased expectations. While the future of work is a collective responsibility, 80 percent of employees believe their employer is responsible for ensuring a better working world post-COVID and resetting norms, compared with 73 percent who say the government is responsible, 72 percent who agree it is an individual responsibility, and 63 percent who believe it is in the hands of labor unions.

About the study. The Adecco Group unveiled the results of its latest study, Resetting Normal: Defining the New Era of Work, on June 30, 2020. Fieldwork was conducted in May 2020, with 8,000 office-based respondents (aged 18-60) across Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the USA.

From WCI's HR Answers Now portal ©2020 CCH Incorporated and its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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