Challenging the 9-5 work day began long before the pandemic (remember the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss?). Organizations began to acknowledge the connection between employee satisfaction and corporate success, and workers began to question and push back on the status quo.
Today, myths around remote work and productivity are being shattered, and employee expectations about where and when they work have changed. In addition, peak performance studies show that employees, whether they are larks or owls, work most effectively when their schedules reflect their own circadian rhythms.
While it’s too soon to know exactly what our workplaces will look like in the coming years, an Our Future Forum study involving 4,700 knowledge workers found the majority never want to go back to the old way of working. Only 12% want to return to full-time office work, and 72% want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward.
Pre-COVID days were a frenzy of activity for Roberta, a tax lawyer in a major firm and the mother of two boys aged 6 and 8 years. Both she and her husband would attempt to get ready for work while simultaneously juggling the care and feeding of their boys in time for an 8:30 a.m. drop-off at school. Following a rushed commute downtown, and a full day in the office, they were racing back nine hours later to pick them up at after school care, and get them fed, bathed and tucked in.
Today, both Roberta and her husband work from home, and schedule their work day so that one takes the boys to school and the other picks them up. They prepare and eat dinner as a family, and after the boys are tucked in for the night, the parents return to their work for a couple of hours. Life, and work, flow - not always seamlessly, but with far less resistance than before.
Steven, a marketing executive, lives for golf. The arrival of spring and onset of golf season would typically have Steven competing for tee times scheduled around standard work hours. Today, working virtually, Steven schedules all his client meetings for mornings and is able to spend several afternoons a week on the golf course. Depending on workload, he works some evenings and the occasional Saturday, but considers it a small sacrifice to pay for the ability to indulge in his favourite pastime.
Both Roberta and Steven have found ways to effectively balance work and life, instead of trying to fit their lives around work.
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” – Dolly Parton, entertainer
Without spending hours commuting and sitting in offices, employees working from home can more easily fit in time to prepare a healthy meal, walk the dog, schedule wellness appointments, and maximize family time.
By scheduling work within peak performance hours, employees produce higher quality work in a shorter amount of time. A study by Stanford University found that employees were 13.5% more productive when working from home.
Stats Canada reports “79% of employees with a flexible work schedule reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work,” which translates into happier, and more productive, workers.
In his book Drive:The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Daniel Pink presents scientific evidence that one of the three elements required to create a high performance organization is autonomy - a deep-seated desire to direct our own lives (the other two elements are purpose and mastery). By giving employees the autonomy to self-manage their professional and personal lives, they will be more dedicated and productive.
“Framing the issue of work-life balance - as if the two were dramatically opposed- practically ensures work will lose out. Who would ever choose work over life?”– Sheryl Sandberg, business executive and philanthropist
Working anywhere, anytime isn’t just beneficial to employees. Businesses that are agile and can pivot to reflect their employees’ new realities will have a competitive advantage. A WORKshift Canada report, The Bottom Line on Telework, demonstrated employers can save over $10,000 per year for every employee that telecommutes only two days each week.
“Our experience is that firms that adapt to the changing needs of employees not only retain their top talent, they see the impact on the bottom line with heightened productivity, reduced absenteeism and lower turnover costs,” says Stacy Cowan, founder of Urban Legal Recruitment.
Life. Career. Opportunity Awaits. If you have any questions, are considering a change, or just want to chat, we would love to hear from you.
At Urban Legal Recruitment, we have experienced, along with our clients, the impacts of COVID-19. We’ve made the necessary adjustments to ensure the safety of our team members and our clients.