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The Biggest Business Shift in History is Here… Will it Stay?

The future versus the past—how to implement these changes for good.

In the past two years, we’ve seen some radical shifts in the business world.

Work from home, virtual conferences, flexibility in scheduling due to sickness, and a whole plethora of smaller changes that before this time in history, haven’t been explored.

And employees don’t want things to “return to normal,” so what’s the deal?

A Return To Normal

What even is normal anymore?

A 5-day workweek, anywhere from 8 am to 6 pm, long commutes to work, and being in the office every day possible.

That’s what normal used to be.

But now that offices have survived almost 2 years in this new setup, some employees hope that there is more flexibility for them going forward.

Whether you’re an introvert that wants to do the job from home, an extrovert who likes to converse with people in the office, or someone in between who wouldn’t mind having a few days in the office and then a few to recharge at home, the shift may work better for everyone if it stays. And here’s why.

Employees Want to Work Smarter, More Efficiently, and Faster — and For Some, That’s at Home

Now, yes, there are some instances with having kids where this statement isn’t always true. But for the majority of people, having to work from home is more motivating because there’s not a supervisor breathing down their necks.

Or there aren’t as many distractions as around the office. There’s the ability to go out and get coffee in the morning. An ability to take lunch when you’re hungry or finish your work early and be done for the day.

The biggest difference is that the workday is not metered by the amount of time spent at the office. It’s metered by the quality of and the completion of tasks or projects.

There’s less “busy work” and more focus on actual things that need to get done.

Remember in school when the teachers used to hand out busy work when there was a substitute in class that day? That’s how the modern-day office environment feels.

And employees are ready for that environment to change.

Focus on what projects and tasks need to get done, rather than just doling out work to them for them to complete because they’re “on the job.” Your employees will appreciate it, the office morale will increase, and they’ll be more inclined to finish their work at a higher quality.

Flexibility Will Win the Employees Quality

If you’ve ever tried to force something to happen in your office, you’ve seen the turnout. It’s angry at best, and unmotivated at worst.

So why, when so many employees have expressed their desires to work from home, are they being ordered back into the office?

Is it simply because the company can’t “keep an eye” on them while they’re working?

If they’re meeting all of their work requirements and producing quality work, why would the company need to continue to “keep an eye” on them?

Bottom line, if you don’t trust your employees to do the job they were hired to do, why are they hired at your office?

Employees appreciate having more flexibility, even if they have to be in the office 2 to 3 days per week because they get to have more time with their families, friends, and for themselves to relax.

And relaxed, happy employees work better.

So what needs to be implemented going forward to hopefully keep this change? If you’re a supervisor, take these next suggestions into account. If you’re an employee, suggest these to your company.

Suggestions to Keep Everyone Happy

Compromise and communication are the keys to solving any disputes. And it’s no longer the company that’s solely ruling over its employees. So let’s look at some possible ways to compromise between the two.

Work in office 2 to 3 days per week, and work from home 2 to 3 days per week

This may work for those who don’t mind coming in still. Plus, talk to your employees, some may actually want to come into the office still. It’s not that everyone wants to stay home all the time, but the option is helpful for those who do.

And if it’s absolutely imperative for employees to be in the office every week, be flexible with how much or how many days or even for what specific projects they’ll need to be in person for.

Have a scheduled meeting every week or every day to start the day

While this option doesn’t cut down on Zoom time, having a meeting in the morning to simply discuss the week or the day’s tasks is helpful. It’s more helpful for the supervisor to talk to everyone directly at once than it is to have 25 different conversations.

Also, you can set times to check-in or at what point’s to send over the day’s work. But during these meetings, make sure they’re being used properly, and not just sitting around wasting everyone’s time. They could get started on their work instead if a meeting isn’t needed.

Have a trial period of work from home

Though the trial has been these past 2 years, some companies are afraid that if workers don’t return to the office, they won’t continue making their quotas. Which is simply a fear, not truth or representation of what really will happen.

Nonetheless, suggesting a trial period of work from home, say 3 to 6 months, and having monthly quality check-ins to see how it’s going can be the bridge. If this trial period goes well, talk about a longer-term arrangement. If it doesn’t, lessen the time at home. But be honest — on both sides — about what’s working and what isn’t.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Most companies, as I stated above, are scared. They’re staring an unknown reality in the face.

Communication helps alleviate many of these fears.

So whether that means having email check-ins, conference call check-ins, or a weekly check-in at the office, find out what style of communication would help best. And use it.

What if none of these work and my company won’t agree to any terms?

Honestly, if you’re unhappy with it, they won’t work with you on it, and there’s nothing else you can do about it, it’s time to decide whether or not you want to stay at that company.

You have a choice.

You can start looking for other jobs, you can start your own business, you can start a side hustle, you can look for remote work jobs… There are many possibilities to what you can do.

So instead of asking “What can I do?” ask yourself “What do I WANT to do?”

The business environment is shifting and will shift eventually. This is the path of the modern-day (and the future of) the business world. But this is the time for employees to start asking for the shift to be more permanent.

It’s not a clear-cut road ahead. It’s still vastly unknown territory. However, we’ve seen what’s been possible over the past 2 years.

And I don’t know many people who are happily willing to go back to how it was before.

Do you?

This article was originally published on Medium by Lillith Elaina.