Employee experience | 6 ways the pandemic has changed the future of work

6 ways the pandemic has changed the future of work

We’re just at the start of an employee experience transformation.

For all the difficult and devastating consequences of the pandemic, it has also taught us that - for many - a new and better way of working is possible. We’re learning that workplace flexibility and productivity go hand-in-hand, and many even found more meaning in their work during the pandemic than they did before.

In March, we asked 1,000 UK employees who had shifted from in-person to remote work at some point during the pandemic about their expectations and desires for the future of work. As companies and organisations navigate the return to work, they’ll need to recognise that people’s needs and priorities have shifted during the last year. Leaders have a unique opportunity to listen directly to their customers and employees and build on what they’ve learned during lockdown.

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There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but understanding how people think and feel can help organisations make the right decisions at the right time in the right way.

Here’s what we found:

1. Productivity has increased with remote work

A high proportion of managers (42%) said their direct reports have been more productive working remotely, with 38% of employees agreeing they have been more productive themselves. The top reasons for improved productivity were flexible schedules, no commuting time, and control over workspaces.

2. Feeling connected is different for all employees

While 29% of employees say they feel more connected with their coworkers than before the pandemic, if you break down the numbers, 43% of 18-25 year olds felt more connected to co-workers, versus just 19% of those aged 50+.

3. Individual contributors want to go back to office more than managers and leaders

53% of all employees say they want to split their working week across remote and on-site locations. However, while 58% of managers and above say they want to work remotely 1-4 days a week, only 46% of individual contributors say the same thing.

4. Gen Z is responding better to the evolution in how we work

18-35 year olds have adjusted to the pandemic better than any other generation with 44% saying their personal well-being has improved since pre-COVID, versus only 25% of those aged 50 and over.

5. Remote work is now a driver of employee retention and attraction

Nearly half of respondents (47%) said a long term remote work policy would make them consider staying at their company longer. But only 4% said they would probably quit their job if they were forced back into the office full time.

When looking for a new role, a huge 72% said it was important their employment afforded them the opportunity to live anywhere.

6. Zoom meetings are here to stay

64% of UK employees think it'll be more socially acceptable to do a virtual customer meeting, instead of seeing each other in-person. And as a result, 42% expect to travel a lot less for work post-pandemic.

Want to explore the full findings? Read the Qualtrics XM Institute’s report

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Acting on employee feedback is the number one way to attract, retain and engage top talent, with leaders reporting 3x more revenue per employee and 40% lower turnover. But here’s the catch: only 19% of UK employees say their organisation listens to their opinions. Qualtrics helps brands like Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Barclays to close that experience gap, enabling them to design and improve experiences across the employee lifecycle - from recruitment through to exit.