Well here we are, and it’s almost difficult to remember a time before Covid, back when our work environments were fairly predictable, and didn’t vary wildly from one business to another. So what does our new normal working environment look like? And how are we handling a new set of challenges we hadn’t had to consider previously? From discussions with both candidates and clients, the below are some professional and personal challenges that many of us will be able to identify with, in our new reality in a post Covid restrictions workplace!
Emerging as a key issue during the pandemic, parents were faced with a lack of childcare facilities. Whether it be full closure due to lockdown, or children at home due to COVID symptoms. This issue has continuously placed a huge strain on those who are working from home or in a hybrid context, whilst trying to care for their children.
Even now in a post-restrictions world, many people are trying to manage childcare differently than they had before. This is not without its challenges, as we all know it’s challenging to juggle a demanding career and work schedule, with the demands of children if they’re at home at the same time. People are being more creative with how they resolve their childcare needs in the more blended world we are in now.
“Childcare and caring responsibilities emerged as key issues during the pandemic with 52% of respondents indicating that this had affected productivity. 50% of respondents reported that managers had to redistribute work among staff to facilitate caring responsibilities within the workforce. Further four in five reported that caring responsibilities caused problems for people working remotely. 64% said this would pose obstacles for people returning to work onsite.” (The CIPD HR Practices in Ireland 2021 Survey)
Remote working challenges
While remote working has undoubtedly been a positive outcome of the pandemic, it has not been without its challenges for some. Candidates have reported a lack of “sense of self”, without having the opportunity to have face to face conversations, coffees, and social outings, with work colleagues. Although methods of communication are better than ever before, the lack of visibility and human contact has been debilitating for some.
Many are happy to be back in the office environment where they get to foster relationships and friendships with their work colleagues. An increased focus on helping people to feel happier at work, and more connected to the team around them, has become a resounding theme.
Hence, we are seeing a common trend of a hybrid working model, which allows for some days from home, and the remainder in the office, resulting in a vastly improved work/life balance than we would have seen in 2019.
Taking Holidays/the inability to switch off
Throughout the restrictions, we had less opportunity to jet off at a moment’s notice, and we can certainly see that people are making up for that lack of a proper opportunity to switch off. Recharging doesn’t have to mean getting on an airplane, but it certainly is necessary to avoid burnout, whether it’s duvet-day, an Irish trip, or indeed an overseas trip to sunnier climes!
We are seeing that during the restrictions people took ad-hoc days, but didn’t plan a proper switch off of a week or two. Thankfully taking our proper rest breaks from work has been restored, and has helped us all to understand what we need to do to truly switch off.
Another trend which has been mentioned repeatedly, is that without the physical act of walking out of those office doors after a days work, it seems we are more inclined to consistently check our emails into the night.
This may seem like a positive to some employers, but ultimately the blurred line between home and work life will lead to burn out in employees.
Have you experienced any of the above topics recently? Has it made you reconsider your working environment? I would be delighted to have a confidential chat and advise you on your next career move.