If there is anything the last two years have taught us, it is that the nature of work in any industry can be flexible and dynamic without jeopardising even an ounce of efficiency. The Covid-19 pandemic has a silver lining — it gave companies an epiphany in how it can adapt and revolutionise the world.
Working styles have long been thought to be static, which is why we refer to corporate jobs as 9-5 and not anything else. However, in recent times it seems that corporate jobs have taken a different turn. Most of the people I know are working fully from home, with a small handful with hybrid arrangements. All of them believe that this flexible arrangement is something they desired but never dared to think about since they first started working and employers are cognisant of that. They have also told me that their companies have voiced interest in maintaining this arrangement after the Singaporean Government declared Covid-19 as endemic and integrated into our way of life.
From the situation, I have noted several things.
Employers have realised that managerial systems have evolved and this new normal is something they must adapt to. This means that the definition of productivity has changed tremendously. Gone are the days where work is deemed efficient by the number of hours put in, but rather the outcomes. Employers have noted that so long as an employee meets a deadline, work is deemed to be completed. Productivity has a new yardstick and it is here to stay. Stubborn employers have suffered the disastrous impact of deteriorating productivity (and in rare cases an exodus of employees) when they use draconian means and the belief that an employee should adapt to what the boss wants.
Employers now believe in a “WE” approach, instead of an “Us Versus Them” belief. This means that employers are greatly aware that subordinates are also part of their team, and must take steps to ensure that their employees are also satisfied with their work relations. There is decreasing focus on an individual but how these individuals can work together and coexist in the work sphere. A team that complements each other is definitely on the way to becoming more efficient.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought forward increasing discussions of mental health, which has spilled over to more welfare and balance in several industries. This is also aligned with the hybrid working arrangements for employees to spend more time doing their own personal things. Some employers have found that by doing so, not only is job happiness on an incline but productivity as well. They have also found that employees may take the time to do other job-related activities such as going for upgrading classes that may translate to better job skills. This modus of operation has also enhanced on-the-job morale since workers no longer (or tremendously lower) feel neglected.
Ultimately, the startling effects of the Covid-19 situation has brought about several blessings in disguise for employees. More power has shifted into the hands of employees as a result of flexibility, which gives them greater control and perhaps even more accountability in the things they do. The managerial system of today is no longer the same as it was just two years ago, and employees are aware of that.