The future of work can be affected by any number of things: natural disasters, political crisis, industrial revolution, or pandemic, as we’ve all learned the hard way these past few years. We’re hoping to build and evolve a resilient remote work culture ‒ regardless of the driving force.
Since the pandemic began, many organizations have adopted a largely remote work culture, and those that haven’t have been forced to implement a whole new way of working on-site. Certainly, if they weren’t asking it before the pandemic, we’re seeing a lot of companies now ask, “What does the future of work look like?”
Mad*Pow has been exploring the possible answers to that question from workspaces to workstyles and the tools used. We hope to uncover what drives burnout and recharge cycles in employees working remotely during the pandemic. Through thoughtful research, we identified four dimensions of burnout and recharge:
Unsurprisingly, with remote work, social connection is more challenging; it leaves teams feeling that every interaction must be scheduled or made into a meeting. It’s worsened by the fact that video conferencing isn’t perfect, and it’s not fulfilling employees’ needs to feel connected.
When it comes to setting boundaries, it’s even harder to do so while working remotely. According to our research, in 2020 ‒ in the midst of the pandemic ‒ the average American worked three extra hours a day and/or was unable to unplug at the end of the day.
Remote teams expressed concerns about forming relationships since the day-to-day in-person interactions are gone. This concern also extends to hiring and onboarding new teammates, who must learn a whole new workplace culture without ever stepping foot in the workplace itself.
Remote working used to be considered a privilege. Employees would often use that thought process to push themselves to work extra hours to prove they could work remotely efficiently. Now, this behavior trend is leading toward increased burnout.
By understanding the underlying causes of burnout, smart companies can implement solutions to combat these challenges:
Without the ability to gather in person, the need for online collaboration tools has increased. While you might have brainstormed together on a classic whiteboard, there are digital tools that offer the same ability, such as MURAL and Miro, or other design tools like Adobe XD and Figma, which allow multiple designers to work on the same file in real-time.
Some collaboration tools are likely to grow in popularity because they resemble what it’s like to be together in person, such as High Fidelity, which can supplement video chats.
Gamify the Workplace
To host meetings, some companies have started utilizing video games, such as Red Dead Redemption and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Red Dead Redemption has a feature that allows users to ride in on their horses to a shared location and enjoy a conversation around the campfire. Video games are playful, but they also provide the benefit of giving people a virtual body – something people have expressed was missing in other collaboration tools.
Other companies have evolved their physical workspaces, not just by installing plexiglass or increasing sanitation processes – they have gone bold, developing outdoor offices, meeting rooms, and kitchens; some are even renting parks!
We encourage you to ponder ridiculous ideas and consider how they might benefit your team in the long term. You might not be able to make your wild ideas come to life right now, but it never hurts to daydream about the possibilities and potentially adopt some mild solutions in the meantime.
How might we make remote work more sustainable?
Wild Idea: Consider adopting a four-day workweek, which is already gaining popularity in Europe.
Mild Idea: Create buffers between meetings, so people aren’t stuck in front of their computer the whole day.
How might we create workplaces designed for parents?
Wild Idea: Repurpose unused office space for childcare for employees.
Mild Idea: Allow employees to have flexible schedules.
How might we help employees have comfortable home offices?
Wild Idea: Hire interior designers to help employees set up productive environments.
Mild Idea: Allow employees to take office furniture home or provide a stipend for decorating.
The future of workspaces and working styles will continue to evolve, creating opportunities for blending digital and physical workplace experiences and the need to build a more resilient remote-work force. As we navigate the future of work, good leaders consider the most preferable future for their employees, but great leaders take action towards that future.
Mad*Pow helps organizations explore how to help employees avoid burnout, create space for recharge as they work from home, and design creative experiences to support social connection while creating boundaries when virtual work realities spread into employees’ personal lives.
Want to learn more about how Mad*Pow can help your organization envision its Future of Work? Fill out our contact form on the next page and we will reach out to schedule a meeting.