Flex work solutions hold the key to successful workplaces over the next decade. One of the most notable shifts catalyzed by the pandemic was our shift to remote work. Many have covered this extensively including me. The shift to virtual work has brought many positive changes to the workplace including helping keep people safe, helping companies recruit and retain talent, and even giving a boost to diversity and inclusion.
The benefits of remote work are undeniable and provide exciting opportunities for the future of workplaces. With that said, we need to acknowledge two harsh realities:
1) It seems COVID-19 will likely have a constant role in our society and workplaces for the foreseeable future.
2) The benefits of remote work don’t extend to everyone. In fact, it may even be harmful to the well-being and professional development of employees for generations.
In accepting these points, it might be time we actively discuss the negative impacts of remote work. The benefits of remote work are powerful and undeniable, but we also need to start addressing how remote work changes dynamics in the workplace that may negatively impact employees professionally and emotionally. It’s time to discuss viable flex work solutions that harness the benefits of remote work without its pitfalls.
Understanding these negative impacts will be vital for the future of work. We need to recognize what a balanced approach to the workplace may look like going forward. The future of work needs to empower employees to continue enjoying the benefits of remote work AND in-person office life if they so choose.
The first step to finding any solution is acknowledging the problem, so let’s take a look at the main negative components impacting many professionals. This is the best way we can identify the areas we must focus on going forward. So, let’s dive in!
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Flex Work Helps Curb Social Isolation
I think we can all resonate with this one to a degree. Thanks to the pandemic, many have been thrust into social isolation in both their personal and professional lives. It’s easy to grasp how loneliness impacts people psychologically, but those negative factors also extend to our physical health as well. The CDC says social isolation is associated with about a 50% percent increased risk of dementia, a 29% increased risk of heart disease, and a 32% increased risk of stroke. This is all before we discuss the tragedy of premature death associated with depression.
Young professionals traditionally have relied on the mentorship and friendship they gain in an office environment. While employee engagement has been an inspiring ‘all-hands-on-deck’ undertaking since the pandemic, we have yet to truly substitute for the loss of these invaluable relationships.
We need to explore the creation of programs or policies that enable in-person relationship building. While this used to be a natural bi-product of traditional office culture, it might require more intentional efforts to achieve in the modern workplace. Any flex work solutions that workplaces employ should invest in ensuring they properly curb social isolation.
Flex Work Helps Leadership Development
Increased social isolation will inherently change office dynamics and thus change the way leaders are identified and developed within a workplace. This poses a grave risk to workplaces in the long run. Employee retention remains vital to companies but more elusive than ever. Between the tight labor market and a nationwide ‘great resignation’, workplaces are at risk of further disruption they simply can’t afford.
It is vital to create comprehensive leadership development solutions that include value for employees and that drive growth efficiently. We need to identify and empower our future leaders even if we can’t directly monitor their growth as hands-on as before. If we fail to readjust, workplaces risk lowered innovation and productivity in the long term.
What do these potential solutions look like? How does technology ease this transition? How can we provide valuable options that empower leadership development both in-person and remotely? These are all important questions we will need to answer in 2022 and then keep asking as time moves forward.
Learning Tech That Will Change Enterprise in 2022 – Read Here
With C-19 seemingly set to continue disrupting the globe, the solutions we develop are inherently vulnerable and likely in-flux. With that said, we REALLY need to start having more deliberate and honest conversations about the downside of a ‘blind’ remote work approach. How can we keep people safe, coexist with C-19, and also keep human connections alive and prosperous in our workplaces? The answer to the said question may define HR for years to come!