Solving the biggest shift in work culture for 100 years

January 30, 2023

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Colleagues in a flexible working environment

Nick Powell, Vice President of Bolt Business, shares his thoughts on the biggest shift in work culture for 100 years. He also offers advice for how your business can come out of this period with a motivated, engaged, and determined workforce.

We’re at the most significant junction companies have faced since the Industrial Revolution. 

For 100 years, workers have followed the same rough template their entire working lives: you get to the office at 9 a.m., do your work, clock off at 5 p.m., and go home. But now it’s a different landscape.

During the pandemic, businesses were forced to radically change their approach and adopt working from home, flexible hours, and hybrid models. These changes have now been adopted by a large part of the workforce, which means your company must continue to support these working habits if you want to succeed.

The playing field has changed, radically

If you go all in on getting everybody in the office 9–5, you’ll struggle to recruit and retain the best talent. Simply put, the standard 9–5 is no longer an option for many businesses.

A change in working habits, forced on businesses during the pandemic, has opened employees’ eyes to the world of home working.

But this isn’t bad news for employers. If you find a happy medium, you’ll allow your team to deliver work of a high quality and make your company a desirable place to work — a win-win for the employer.

Consider both sides of the coin

In this competitive hiring environment, employers need to be more willing to compromise. 

Mandating something you haven’t researched, such as telling your team to be in the office five days a week, will cause problems. Employees will compromise on things to a point, but they won’t hesitate to move on.

The second your employers aren’t getting enough value out of their role — whether that’s career-wise, payment-wise, or fulfilment-wise — they’re going to leave.

Employers no longer have the upper hand, making it essential to test your working policies to find the sweet spot of what the business and your employees need. 

With this in mind, you now have to decide where to pitch yourself on the scale — and most companies haven’t taken this step. 

Finding the right balance

The jury’s out as to what productivity really looks like in the various guises of hybrid, home working, and fully in the office. 

It’s been proven that workers can be more productive at home, but other studies show that working from home permanently can hamper productivity. Because of this, we’re seeing various iterations — different companies trying different things. 

But one thing’s clear; employees won’t respond well if you tell them they have to be in the office five days a week. Largely because many workers are now used to the perks of working at home.

Workplaces are now competing with people’s homes

By default, working at home affords plenty of perks:

  • It’s a comfortable environment; 
  • You get to see more of your family;
  • You can finish work at a practical time of day. 

These benefits are all in addition to not having to commute — possibly the biggest benefit of them all.

So, to get people back in the office, even for a couple of days a week, you need to ask yourself: “How can I make the working environment good enough that it can compete with somebody’s home?”

This is something companies have never had to think about before. You used to find an office, and that was it. But that doesn’t work anymore. Now, you need a proper policy and feedback mechanism to understand the needs of your employees and what they’ll respond to. 

This is where companies need to be smart in their thinking — and offering perks is one way to encourage teams to make the trip to the office.

Solve the commute, help solve the problem

Commuting is often seen as dead time, especially for those with longer commutes. If you can transform this time into a pleasant experience, your team will be more motivated to make the trip to the office.

Smart businesses are already recognising this and have given their employees an allowance for travelling to work on electric scooters and e-bikes. By taking this approach, you’re more likely to get your team back into the office. 

You’re also supporting sustainable travel and a healthy lifestyle, which is of growing importance to the modern workforce.

Meals go a long way too

Companies have also been engaging with food delivery to attract people back to work — whether that’s occasional breakfasts, lunches, or meals for late workers. 

To support companies with this, we’ve added Bolt Food and Bolt Market to Bolt Business (currently live in Estonia, with more countries to follow). By offering meals and maintaining a healthy supply of snacks in the office kitchen, you’re bridging that gap between the workplace and people’s homes.

It all comes down to how you adapt

Once you’ve mastered adapting to the shifting work culture, it will end up being a great thing for your business. 

Using travel perks such as electric scooters and e-bikes will go a long way towards encouraging your team to make the trip to the office. Once they’re in the office, offering snacks and meals will give your employees many of the same comforts they get at home.

These perks will help your workplace adapt to a shifting culture and make you a desirable employer for existing employees and potential recruits. 

This article was written by Nick Powell, Vice President of Bolt Business.

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