Work consists of three components: The psychological, the physical, and the virtual.
In this blog, we elaborate on the significance of the first one. The psychological component refers to the needs and challenges people experience in their work that affect their performance.
It’s vital for organizations to get a clear understanding of those needs and challenges because it’s the key to an optimal working environment. By putting people first, companies support their most valuable asset: Their employees.
It also helps strengthen the organisation’s status, which not only makes it an attractive workplace for existing employees, but also for potential hires.
Improving the work-life balance
“Do we work to live, or do we live to work?”
It goes without saying that many of us struggle to find the right balance between work and personal life. After the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the traditional balance was shattered: The home office became our primary location. While a challenge for some, many found that it brought several benefits. They realized it could bring a better work-life balance and reduce stress levels; employees had more time, more flexibility.
Research has shown that working from home can have a positive effect on productivity. Besides, a better work-life balance also fits Generation Z, who value a blend between work and life through flexible working hours higher than the old generation.
Focus on needs and challenges
The home office has changed from a secondary to a primary work location: working from home is now a viable option. Some will only commute to work if the office would better suit the activity they need to perform. And that mindset has come to stay.
Organisations need to ask their employees how they can facilitate flexibility to work from wherever they want—whether this is at the office, at home, or even at the coffee shop around the corner.
To achieve this requires a hybrid workplace: The physical and virtual components of work must be integrated seamlessly.
It is vital that organisations give employees the freedom to choose. While some employees might only avoid the office due to safety reasons, others would prefer to work from home on a permantent basis.
But when more people work from different locations, they risk becoming disconnected. Not only in work related activities, but also social activities. The casual chitchats about the weekend strengthen employee relationships, which is more important than one might realize.
Creating virtual coffee corners, or organising regular virtual drinks or even pub quizzes help stimulate the connection among employees when a significant number of them are working remotely.
In the long term, organizations need to be prepared for this new way of working. Achieving a true understanding of the needs of an office also helps redesign it in a way that facilitates the needs of your employees. For instance, by following the activity-based working principle in which organisations make better use of their real estate footprint.
Organizations should also be prepared for a more agile way of working that is characterised by short term projects of up to 3 months to a year, where there is much more employee mobility between different companies. To coordinate the new way of working, it is required that managers assess their employees on delivered output instead of the number of hours they work.
They have to develop a management style built on trust instead of control.
Lastly, employees should be provided with training tools to learn skills that are highly desired in the future, as digitisation and automation will change the market. Over the next five to ten years, 20 to 30% of current jobs will be replaced by jobs that don’t exist today.
By looking at not only the psychological, but also the physical and virtual components of work, organisations can create an optimal working environment for their employees that fits the modern way of working.