We will never go back to working the way we did pre-COVID. Here’s why.

Brett Iredale
4 May
Reading time: 4 minutes
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A week ago, I conducted a survey of our JobAdder teams to learn more about how they are feeling about working from home, and about seeing what we can learn as a business.

Now, before the professional survey analysts out there jump on me about my method and wording of questions, just understand that this was intended to be a quick survey to temperature-check the business and to start a conversation.

About the survey respondents

  • JobAdder employees, working in Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA
  • 100 employees
  • 42% have children at home while working from home

Here are some of the questions we asked, along with the responses that I found particularly interesting.

80% of employees are looking forward to coming back to the office when we reopen (either a lot or a little bit).

So, the office is still vitally important to the majority of people. It is not yet time to cancel the lease and move to have everyone working from home permanently. Damn!

90% of employees are experiencing positive benefits from WFH.

  • 82% appreciate having more time in their day, due to not having to commute to work
  • 56% are exercising more
  • 78% say they get more work done from home
  • 45% say they are eating more healthily
  • 37% have started or are working on a hobby
  • 57% are communicating better with their colleagues than before

So there’s a great deal to take away from this for me.

Overwhelmingly the experience of working from home has had positive impacts on the majority of people. If most people are exercising more, eating better, getting more work done, spending more time with their families and have more time in their day, then what more do we need to know? This shit is important!

There are still potentially negative impacts that need considering.

Working from home is not a panacea and is not perfect.

  • 77% of people at JobAdder miss the relationships with colleagues
  • 22% of people experienced loneliness (possibly more due to COVID enforced lockdowns more than working from home)
  • 13% admitted to experiencing mental health issues (I have to assume that people are stoic and that number is possibly higher than stated)
  • 32% say that their working from home arrangements are less comfortable than the office. So longer-term, there could be health and safety issues as well as possible productivity declines

The two biggest takeaways for me are that;

(1) We have a fantastic culture that people enjoy, and we must protect and continue to grow it at all cost, and

(2) The ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind’ factor has to be taken into account. We must find ways to ensure that people are looked after, feel comfortable, safe and supported.

82% of employees prefer working with more flexibility

No real surprises there, right? Well maybe not, however, the quantum did surprise me — especially considering we have beautiful new offices with shiny kitchens, outdoor areas and all the trappings.

There is a whole other article on this particular topic I think, but it is a subject worth pondering for tech CEOs, especially. Perhaps our longstanding focus on creating fantastic workspaces has been misplaced? Maybe all we needed to do was let people have more time OUT of the office instead of more time in it?

I was also very interested to see that 50% of people feel that two to three days a week working from home is about the right mix.

66% of respondents said that flexible working would be a prerequisite for future jobs.

Not just important, but required! Essential! Not negotiable!

Shut the front door!

As employers and recruitment professionals, are we planning for what this means to our ability to attract and retain talent post-COVID?

What about the types of clients we take on and the ability for us to attract talent to businesses that do not embrace flexible working?

Here are some of the changes we will be implementing in our post-COVID offices;

  • Flexible working options for all employees.
  • Ideally, teams will work together as a unit in the office for 2–3 days a week.
  • We will aim only to have 50–60% of employees in the office on any given day.
  • We are replacing many of our SaaS systems with a smaller number of company-wide systems. These changes are underway, with our primary tools of choice being G-Suite, Zoom, Slack, Monday.com, TargetProcess, and a couple of team-specific tools such as Zendesk and JobAdder (we use our product as a sales CRM).
  • We are converting fixed desks to hot desks (already underway).
  • We will create more outdoor working spaces.
  • Find ways to add more open, collaborative workspaces.
  • Organise a calendar of regular social events in and out of the office to compensate for not seeing each other as often and to strengthen team spirit and company culture.

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