Has the workplace changed forever?

The Covid-19 pandemic truly changed the way in which people work. Remote and hybrid working has been cemented in workplaces all over the world, fundamentally shifting the work culture as we know it. Businesses have spent the last few years adapting and changing in order to stay competitive and keep up with the moving trends, but how does this effect the workplace and what changes are here to stay?

One of the significant changes in the workplace is the way that recruiting has been conducted. It all started at the beginning of the pandemic when the rate of unemployment soared due to unforeseen redundancies, and many businesses were forced to put their employees on furlough as the world locked down, with the number of people on furlough reaching almost 4m at its peak. The Office for National Statistics recently announced that the jobless rate averaged 3.8 per cent in the three months to February, returning to lows last seen in 2019.

Changing the hiring process

A transition in how the workplace operates has also meant the way we find new candidates has rapidly changed. Virtual interviews were commonly conducted during the peak of the pandemic, but it’ also a trend that’s stayed. There has been a 57% increase in the use of video interviews from 2019 – 2022 and more than half of employers say they have continued to use video interviews since COVID restrictions were lifted. It is significantly quicker and, in some case, easier to streamline candidates. Additionally, the scheduling flexibility and availability for candidates and interviewers to log into the call versus taking the time off to meet in person are amongst the many benefits of virtual interviews.

But from conversations it’s not just about where we’re having the interview that’s changed, it’s also about who is sitting in the interviews and how that dynamic is evolving, with businesses increasingly bringing VPs and CTOs into the interviews. It is interesting to also hear the individual screening processes they have adapted, something that probably wasn’t even considered before the pandemic.

Overpromising and under-delivering

With the new pressures of making sure people’s roles are fulfilled in a very competitive environment, companies are increasingly offering attractive hiring packages including hybrid or remote working, which has quickly become a norm when it comes to the attempts to retain staff. Further conversations we are having are telling us that broken promises within a business, promising exciting projects but not fulfilling these promises has meant that they have been forced to leave their role, the main theme here being to ensure you’re not overpromising, but under-delivering.

During the interview stage, it’s about presenting the role differently, and not being a case of painting the role as remote and then asking people to come into the office. It was agreed by attendees at a recent Godel dinner event that false promising is happening more frequently as competition is so fierce and people are looking for any way possible to attract talent, but then role isn’t living up to expectations – so a high churn rate within the business is inevitable.

The hybrid/virtual world

With the help of growing whiteboard platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Jamboards, it’s questioned whether meetings/standups can still be as interactive in a virtual world or whether by losing that face-to-face element, a meeting will lose its natural flow. Some businesses are pushing for clients to meet face to face, with an importance to retain office space host clients.

The retention of staff can also be a contributing argument around maintaining the hybrid world. Tech leaders have stated a significant of churn when people have gone fully remote for younger people coming into the business, with younger people enjoying the social aspects and culture side of the workplace. In addition to this, it’s argued that any business that wants to develop any form of graduate/apprentice scheme should offer hybrid working or offer have some form of co-working space otherwise businesses will lose younger talent.

COVID has transformed the workplace culture forever. What people want and need are now considerably different and business leaders will need to implement this change into their workplace to come out of the other side as strongly as possible in order for them to scale.