I love to see the speed and flexibility that many large and small businesses have shown in response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the way they have adapted their workplace/workforce policies to ensure their employees health and well being. We have seen a lot of content around working from home. Many organisations who may not have had ‘Work From Home (WFH) practices have quickly scaled to bring to the masses a new WFH mentality. I think that this will change forever the perception of WFH policies and processes for the better but I think that the focus on remote working is only the tip of the iceberg when we look at the potential shifts we may see in the workplace in the coming year(s).
The Push to Workforce Casualisation: We have seen a slow but steady increase in the casualisation of the workforce. I remember attending a conference in 2006 where a speaker portrayed that the workforce of the future would not be a team of full time employees but be more like a movie production crew where people come together for a specific piece of work and then disband and then individuals join another project. We haven’t quite got there yet but we have seen the rise of contracting, side hustles and workforce casualisation over the years since at a slow and steady pace. Will the response we are seeing in the business world today from the Coronavirus be the driver that causes a spike in further casualisation of the workforce. Maybe when the Coronavirus pandemic settles down and we resume back to a degree of normality we may see some companies/employees embrace change by looking at other ways to manage the workplace relationship between each other. Will every full time role that was made redundant or put on hold need to be hired back a full time role? We may come out of the other end of this and see both employers and employees more open to considering working together in ways besides a standard full time role. Both business and workers alike could look for more flexibility from the role that work plays for them which could mean contracting, more remote work, 2nd jobs, part time work, shared jobs, etc…. as a result of adjusted working conditions that we are having to adapt to at the moment.
A Shift in Mindset: Not every person and not every business thinks the same – this is what makes the world so great. For some people and businesses working Mon-Fri in an office in the city is perfect for them while for others the opposite is true. There is no right or wrong answer when we look at how we work. What I can see happening though is that going through this pandemic we will see some people begin to focus more on doing work that fits their overall life not just their work life. People will realise they do not need as much as they think and they will get some balance in their life between work, family, health…where we have seen in the past cases of burn out from people trying to be all things to everyone.
There is an Article by the Australia Industry Group: Casual work and part-time work in Australia in 2018. It is interesting to see the percentage of the overall working population in full time employment in 2018. Will this graph look significantly different in 2025?
Things are tough at the moment however I have confidence and belief in how resilient and adaptable people are. We do not know when this will end, but it will end and when it does I am interested to see how this changes the workplace dynamic. I think the remote work conversation is the easy discussion, the deeper discussion I feel is around how this may change the way employers/employees view work and if it does change in what way. I would love to hear your thoughts on this.