The way we work has changed. While calling this new reality a ‘new normal’ is a cliché, we can’t ignore how the pandemic acted as a catalyst for change.
Flexible or hybrid working, once an added benefit, is now expected by most employees. In particular, the differing priorities of the younger generation of workers are shaping the way companies approach new technologies, benefits and processes.
For business leaders, this poses new challenges to ensure all are satisfied, productive and collaborative, regardless of location. However, this shift also offers new opportunities to create workplaces where any barriers to positive behavioural changes are removed and where the adoption of new technologies is fostered and encouraged.
Reshaping the future of work: Gen Z
Gen Z (also known as ‘digital natives’ and ‘zoomers’) will comprise almost a third of the workforce by 2025, bringing with them fresh perspectives on values and ways of working; for them, work is what you do, not where you do it. More than other earlier generations, Gen Z are looking for a sense of purpose and achievement and are basing their career choices on ‘purpose and principles’, as well as work-life balance.
As the first digitally-native generation, Gen Z are thrilled by the prospect of flexible working options. Before the pandemic, just one in 70 jobs on LinkedIn offered the option to work remotely; that figure fell to one in seven by the start of 2022.
Business leaders must therefore re-evaluate the tools and solutions they have to cater for the needs of this new group of workers. While established employees might struggle to adapt to new technologies and be more resistant to change, Gen Z recognises the importance of technology to encourage collaboration and welcome new solutions that can help them establish better working relationships and better work-life balance.
When remote working became the norm, it shook the foundations of most corporate cultures. It became clear that business leaders had been reluctant to change for no real reason; employees continued to do their work remotely with the same level of productivity.
Housing providers should foster a culture of change and flexibility, where staff feel empowered to embrace new ways of working that can increase productivity and foster a better work-life balance.
Fear of change
Humans are creatures of habit; when anything changes our daily lives, we tend to be resistant to it and are scared it will complicate and disrupt our lives.
This is evident when new technology is adopted. Changing processes with new tools can often jeopardise that feeling of comfort in the ‘old ways’, with some people refusing to adopt new ways of working and defaulting to what they know.
To ensure new technology adoption is welcomed, business leaders must take the time to walk their staff through the benefits of new technologies; how they’ll improve their day-to-day lives and why it will be important to the individual’s work.
Confusion over choice
Adopting the right technology to enable collaboration is vital. With the right tools, employees are empowered to work from their location of choice, enjoying the benefits of flexible working hours and in turn, increasing productivity.
Yet the number and variety of collaboration tools can be overwhelming. Faced with this situation, business communication and productivity are often fragmented and left to end-users’ own preferences. A lack of direction and messaging around what the business is working toward also threatens to hinder the adoption of collaboration tools, particularly without adequate training.
While Gen Z and millennials are more receptive than most people to hybrid working and the benefits of the latest collaboration tools, existing employees are still finding it hard to adapt to the sea of changes we’ve had to face in the past few years.
For now, it’s all about finding a balance; a hybrid approach, clear direction and training will be vital. Co-creating the future of work can’t be done with a divided workforce.
Richard McPhee is a solutions director at Gamma.