Working from home is now a familiar concept for many of us. Last year, millions of people had to get used to this new way of working with hardly any warning. Most have coped with it well. Some have even thrived and have felt as productive or even more so than they did in their usual work environment.

Many of us miss the social interactions of a physical, shared workspace and are looking forward to regaining this aspect of work. Very few people are likely to have missed travelling to work. A significant proportion of us have relished the improved work-life balance that working from home can often provide. This is probably one of the multiple reasons why hybrid working, part office and part remote, looks set to prove very popular.

It is important to recognise that not everyone has thrived working from home. Working from home can be a lonely and isolating experience, leading to a decrease in well-being and an increase in poor mental health. Not everyone has an ideal place to work, many people struggle with the loss of clear boundaries where work stops and home life starts. During lockdown, anyone with caring responsibilities is likely to have felt under huge pressure.

A unique opportunity to re-think the future of work

There is no doubt we have a unique opportunity now to re-think the future of work and take the best from what home working has taught us. We can cast aside inefficient processes, from over-attended meetings to unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. A hybrid model may sound simple in principle, but after decades of convention about 9-5, office-centric work, implementing an entirely new way of working is not just hard to do, but is actually an opportunity for a real revolution.

New management skills required for future working

Workers need new skill sets, as do, almost more importantly, their managers, in order to work differently and work together in an empowered and self-managing organisation. Training needs to be put in place to strengthen the new management skills that will be required for this new way of working. Recruitment policy and practice need to be revised to reflect these major changes. Job descriptions must be re-defined and new approaches to managing hybrid working adopted.

Building a better workforce and an improved workplace with future working

Unlike the beginning of lockdown, with no time to prepare and having to make huge, important decisions on how to work differently to maintain service delivery as we went along, unlocking can be measured, planned and carefully thought out.  How should people work and how will they be managed? How should workers communicate and interact with each other? What needs to be changed in order to achieve the best outcomes? If we get this right, we can create a better workforce and build a much improved, more inclusive workplace.

Act now to create a positive future working environment for all

The easy option in the short term is to slip back into the old ways of working. We could regard the past year as nothing more than a ‘blip’ to move past and forget as quickly as possible. This would be a missed window of opportunity to build on what we have learned and create a future working environment that we can be proud to be a part of. A measured approach is certainly crucial but we must act without delay and with a sense of urgency to transform the future of work for all.

How can C.Co help with future working?

With years of experience in change management, the C.Co team is ideally placed to assist you to evaluate your organisation’s current position and review its performance over the last year. We can conduct a gap analysis of the skills required to develop your future-work model and drive a successful future hybrid workplace. Find out how we can help you maximise opportunities and benefits, as well as implementing the practical changes needed, with our rapid diagnostic assessment that can be delivered at pace. Contact us to find out more.