While no one expects a return to traditional ways of working, opinions are divided about what the workspace of the future will look like.
Three years ago the Flexible Working Taskforce was launched in response to then-Prime Minister Theresa May’s challenge to business to improve workplace equality by advertising all jobs as flexible from day one.
The taskforce is now drawing up guidance to support the emergence of new ways of working after the pandemic. For example, staff might come into the office on two days and work from home for the rest of the week.
Also under consideration is whether employment contracts need to change to enable more ad hoc, hybrid working in different locations. Employers will still need to ensure employees have a safe place to work – something I am discussing with the Federation of Small Businesses as the National Armed Forces Champion.
From my own experience with X-Forces Enterprise, the pandemic has demonstrated my team can work productively away from our main offices and I see this as the case for at least the next six months.
Our experience is borne out by other companies. In April this year the CIPD published a survey saying 71% of firms said home working had either boosted or made no difference to productivity.
The CIPD research also shows 44% of employees have not worked from home at all during the pandemic as their jobs do not allow it.
This might be the opportunity to shift ways of working, which let’s face it, have barely changed for generations. Such a shift in ways of working may allow more people with other commitments to participate in work and improve health and wellbeing.
There is now potential to create a better working life with new choices that were unimaginable even a year ago.
We know modern life is stressful as it is and made more so by the absence of structured support systems that enable both men and women to combine their family and working lives. A model based on supervision and oversight is giving way to one based on autonomy, trust, and communication. The familiar patterns of office life are important, but they will sit alongside a new world of employee-centred choice.
The Scandinavian countries consistently fare among the best internationally on all the indicators of wellbeing and it is worth looking at their models further; the subject for a future blog.
Universal entitlement means that all parents are guaranteed a childcare space without undue delay. The system is largely publicly run, with only 20 per cent of children attending private day care centres.
In 2002, Sweden introduced a system of maximum fees that could be charged, making the system even more affordable as parents pay no more than 1-3 per cent of their income in childcare fees.
In Britain, we have the second most expensive childcare in the world which takes over 35% (we said 27% on the last blog) of the average family’s income.
Perhaps the future of work is community, which can at times feel like something intangible, but it is where people can come together, support each other and advocate for a greater cause. There is no business without people and we can only build a new type of business, one that puts people at the centre of decision making by coming together and sharing our opinions.
If we put our minds to making communities (and society) the best we can, we would save money across society. It would be a measure of our General Happiness Level or GHL as well as our GDP. It’s something we should embrace.