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Opportunities And Challenges In The Workplace Post-Pandemic

One year into the Covid-19 pandemic, and it’s safe to say that organizations and individuals have learnt a lot about how to live and work in adverse situations. Undoubtedly, these past months have created a series of new business obstacles,most of which have led to digital transformation become a make or break priority for many worldwide.

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Looking back, it comes as no surprise that those who survived these challenging times were those that took aforward-looking approach; one that embraced adaptation and transformation. Now, as several countries cautiously attempt a gradual return to normality, preparing for a post-pandemic world is set to remain a key focusfor business leaders worldwide.

The future of remote working

We cannot discuss the future without looking at one trend that the pandemic has definitely accelerated—remote work. What was previously a much sought-after perk offered by a select few companies has become a standard for many industries worldwide. With the accessibility delivered bycloud technology, employeesare no longer restrictedto a traditional office environment. Instead, workers in many sectors have the flexibility to work remotely and collaborate with theirteams from anywhere, at any time.Going forward, remote working, is in one shape or another, likely to remain a staple for most businesses. Employers learnt that their teams can still be productive working remotely, whilst employees discovered their work and personal lives can co-exist without one being at the expense of the other.With the right framework already in place, and most of their workforce having at least a year of experience working remotely, it’s hard to imagine a future in which businesses will return fully to the office.

Remote working continues to deliver innumerable benefits to both employers and employees. As many industries face talent shortages, remote working has brought new opportunities to companies struggling toovercome alack of local talent by expandingtheir candidate pool beyond their immediate geographical region.

Adopting remote or hybrid working can also help companies attract more diverse talent too. Working remotely means candidates who were previously unable to take a traditional 9-5 office-based position, perhaps because of care responsibilities or accessibility reasons,may be able to work for an organization that offers a more flexibleapproach. This creates opportunities for a much larger portion of the workforce, and allows organizations to cast a wider net when hiring, increasing the chance of finding the best talent for their business.

When we consider the future of work post-pandemic, it’s important to think abouttheevents that have occurred alongsidethe global health crisis, and the compounded impact they’re having on the hiring market.

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In the UK,for example,the effects of Brexit means that employers need to adjust to a smaller candidatepool. With visas now a requirement to live and work in the United Kingdom, it’ll likelybe more difficult to hire aspiring candidates from mainland Europe and beyond.Although the introduction of fast-track visas for certain roles will help,employers with flexible work setups can still put themselves at an advantage when hiring, especially in industries that will not qualify for this incentive. By embracing remote working, companies can access a wider talentpoolnot limited by geographical restrictions. Plus, they’ll save themselves the hassle of dealing with employee permits and relocation.

Rethinking L&D

Remote working is not the only perk employers need to rethink to thrive in a post-pandemic world. Over these past months, employees were left with more free time on their hands, and many dedicatedthis time to their professional development. Thisincreased focus on upskilling, together with the speed at which many industries are rapidlyevolving, means employers must rethink their learning and development strategyif they want to attract and retain the best talent, and remain relevant and competitive post-pandemic.

Training your existing staff is an investment—whether that’s in time or money, upskilling comes at a cost. However, in the long-term, this initial investment will actually help you avoid further unnecessary expenses.

Firstly, equipping your current employees with the skills needed for your company to move forward means you’re less likely to need to hire new talent continuously to fulfil business needs, or because of high employee turnover. Employees who feel valued and invested intend to be happier, more productive, more motivated, and more efficient. They’re also less likely to look for a new workplace in which they can grow and feel more appreciated.

Secondly, preparation is half the battle. We’ve seen this already during the pandemic, and whatever the future will look like, it’s difficult to see how this will change. In the same way that quick reactions and adaption has saved thousands of businesses and jobs during this past year, being prepared will continue to be of vital importance in order to triumphantly face the challenges the future might hold. Keeping your teamand their skills up to date with developments in your industry is the best way you can prepare to adapt for the post-pandemic.

Resilience in the face of change

The Covid-19 pandemic has been the greatest global test we have faced in our lifetime, and we are yet to uncover itslong-term ramifications on businesses and individuals alike. It has also exposed gapsin many company’s commercial resilience, as many businesses scrambled to keep afloat in the turbulent times we’ve collectively gone through. Building strong business resilience, strong enough to handle unprecedented situations such as the one experienced during this pandemic, is essential if we want to build a better future post-pandemic.

As a leader, my top suggestion would be to surround yourself with a dedicated and trusted decision-makers. Nothing compares to knowing you can trust your team of experts to make the best decision in their relevant areas, be it HR, communications, finance, or legal, in times of crisis. That, paired with forward-thinking and quick action when necessary is likely to set the foundations for strong business resilience— strongenough to not only withstand any challenges waiting for us at the other side of the pandemic, but to turn them into an opportunity to thrive.