Skip to main content
Home » Future of work » Adapting needs to the changing workplace environment

Ryan Anderson

VP of Global Research & Insights, Herman Miller

Businesses need to adopt a modern and inclusive approach to post-pandemic working practices if they are to compete in the ever-changing world of work.

Employees are now wanting more flexible ways of working, often driven by experiences and changes in practice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

People have re-evaluated their priorities, learned and adopted new patterns of working and are looking to achieve greater work-life balance, says workplace expert Ryan Anderson. “We are seeing employees asking for more flexibility with where they work, just as much as when they work, in a re-evaluation of the traditional working week,” he adds.

Hybrid strategy

He acknowledges that work patterns were changing before the pandemic, but the events of the last two years had forced the conversation towards a hybrid strategy of more flexible working which can promote inclusivity and equity of experience.

“The basic principle is that greater choice enables greater opportunity to be successful,” says Anderson, who is Vice President of Global Research and Insights at workplace design specialists Herman Miller.

That choice has shifted from the expectation of working either in an office, or at home, to a blend of locations. “We should also remember that people were doing work on planes, trains and in coffee shops long before the pandemic.”

Greater choice

Organisations are beginning to work through these ideas, but he says they will realise that you “cannot predict where somebody will do their best work, based on their job title.”

This is influenced by factors – often beyond an organisation’s control – such as the nature of the work, team dynamics, technology, as well as personal, cognitive and sensory abilities, relationships and the state of their home life.

“By giving people greater choice, the equity comes in,” he explains. “People are empowered to figure out where and when they will do their work to be most successful.”

He says a workforce often values flexibility as much as money and wants to be a meaningful part of the community within the organisation, underlining the importance of empowering staff to contribute to change. However, he also warns that this brings increased responsibilities for employees in meeting deadlines and goals.

“Presenteeism is not going to be a primary measure of productivity, so employees have to step up if they expect to thrive in this new world of working,” says Anderson. “But they will have greater opportunity to be successful.”

If an organisation is not being proactive and listening, it diminishes trust and feeling of pride an employee might have in their employer.

Keeping pace

Organisations must keep pace with the changes and he believes many are actively looking at supporting more flexible working, though there are consequences of not doing so.

“If an organisation is not being proactive and listening, it diminishes trust and feeling of pride an employee might have in their employer, which ultimately risks losing that employee,” says Anderson.

People with a strong internal network in a company will leave and be replaced by those with no great connection to a firm, leaving the organisation with a weakened communal infrastructure.

Organisations that have the most successful strategies are those that are valuing employees as an important part of the community and the fabric of their organisation. “Companies will have employees that have a renewed sense of energy and desire to be part of something,” he adds.

Future landscape

Longer term benefits for a company include better retention and employee engagement, which will lead to a more content, innovative and productive workforce.

He believes that organisations that spend the next few years focusing on cultivating a sense of belonging, strengthening relationships and helping people to feel empowered and optimistic will gain a significant advantage over those with a more regressive mindset.

He says: “They will maintain a healthy community of high performers and have a competitive advantage because they are going to be able to recruit outstanding talent that can operate faster and in more agile ways.”

Next article