There’s no doubt about it, COVID-19 has drastically changed the way we work. When lockdown was first announced, the UK experienced a huge shift from office work to remote work with 46.6 per cent of the workforce working from home by April 2020.

Now, as organisations look to the future and the possibility of restrictions lifting, they are faced with difficult decisions on how to move forward. Some employees may be desperate to get back to the office, while others are keen to stay remote. Finding the balance that benefits all can be difficult and will not be the same for all businesses.

So, how can you ensure a way forward that benefits both your employees and your organisation?

Consider hybrid working

Remote working is more cost and time-effective for the employee. Employees have also stated higher levels of job fulfilment, with 56 per cent of employees reporting an increase in their happiness levels due to working from home.

Yet, remote working is not for everyone. 27 per cent of employees reported that their mental health had deteriorated due to working from home. Many workers struggle with the isolation of remote working. Employees personal situations greatly vary; not all have adequate space to work and some may have more distractions than others. Working from home can also cause the work-life balance to become skewed. 53 per cent of employees now feel they should be working longer hours and always be available.

While the pandemic has given many employees a new experience of remote working, most do not want it to be the future. Research by Future Forum found that 72 per cent of workers want a hybrid workplace going forward. A hybrid approach offers more choice for employees and is beneficial for both workers and the organisation. To create a working world that benefits all, employers need to embrace this new change and consider establishing a hybrid model of work.

Introduce flexible hours

Remote working has increased flexitime. Employees no longer have to follow the nine ‘til five approach of a typical office and staff value this new level of choice. Going forward, organisations need to introduce a wider range of flexible working options, from job shares and compressed hours to relaxed start and finish times. Not only will employees appreciate this new autonomy, but it will also improve job satisfaction and productivity.

Flexible working will also help increase diversity in your workplace, encouraging employees to succeed regardless of their circumstances.

Review the workplace

Now is the time to reconsider the physical workplace. Businesses need to redesign the office to support organisational priorities and interactions that cannot happen remotely. Create an environment that supports your organisations. Focus not only on improving productivity but also employee wellbeing and company culture.

As restrictions begin to ease, the world of work has the opportunity to transform. The route forward will not be the same for all businesses, take time to consider the right path for your organisation and employees.