What should we expect for the coming months and years? Various industries, some with flexible hours, others are working after hours out of necessity, such as law or medical-related professions. People worked 60–70 hours a week for 50 weeks each year in the past, but many of us now work 40 hours per week. To conclude our WFH series, we would like to explore what lies ahead for this topic called “work”.
There is a clear correlation between the number of hours of work, productivity, and technological innovation. However, wealthier countries in fact work fewer hours, while generating higher levels of GDP. And with fewer work hours, this means employees can spend more time doing other things.
However, this does not mean that everyone in each country is necessarily working fewer hours; many in the US and Singapore clock in far more hours than others. And what is the result of overwork? Stress and Burnouts. What has happened in the last year and a half shows that overworking past the point of peak productivity is pointless. Changes needed to be made, and what has begun to trend recently could be signs of that finally happening.
What does the Future Hold?
In our previous article, we covered the topic of hybrid work becoming a reality for many companies around the world, from the employee side. What about the rest? Expect to see a major revamp of office layout, amenities, and more because workplaces will not be as packed as they would have been in the past. In addition, some spaces may be converted for use other than work, with the COVID era bringing mental and emotional health to the forefront due to extended WFH hours.
Perhaps more apparent would be the less amount office space needed, which would reduce both costs and environmental impacts in the long run. Instead of one singular headquarters location where everyone will work, we might need a spread-out and more flexible working structure, be it at home or smaller (or even temporary) offices. “It is important to design hybrid-remote work arrangements that also allow for geographic flexibility and work-from-anywhere”, explains Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury of HBS.
And because of hybrid work, teleworking will be the norm for at least half if not fully for many companies. Reduced costs for the employee to travel as well as reduced physical space costs for corporations.
Also, with COVID now being a reality in our lives, near or far, aspects of sanitary practices and health precautions will also see a significant upgrade. This may mean fewer in-person social engagements but resulting a safer working environment in the office.
Four-Day Workweeks or Six-Hour Workdays?
First off, will four-day workweeks be a possible reality? European countries such as Finland, Iceland, and Spain have already begun trials of this method, giving workers 32 instead of 40 hours a week of work. Although this could not be done for every single sector, it is without a doubt that the results have shown to be highly effective.
With an extra day to themselves, people can spend more time doing things outside of work; taking care of kids, investing more time into side hustles, start new hobbies, exercising, and more.
However, perhaps the most critical improvement aspect, especially in the COVID era, is physical and mental health, or personal wellbeing. As a result, people get lower chances of burnout, greater productivity at work, fewer health issues, and in most cases, living happier lives.
Furthermore, many believe that 8 hours is beyond the capacity that people can work for productively. Certain pilot tests for 6-hour workdays have shown that productivity for the most part has improved. Not including paid lunch breaks, many employees, if not given the option for a four-day workweek, are instead willing to opt for a shorter workday Monday to Friday.
But regardless of which amongst these two methods end up being the norm, one thing is for sure; it most surely helps solve the “work-life balance” issue millions have, if not truly provide an opportunity to live life outside of simply working to provide for oneself or a family.
How will technology affect work 5–10 years from now?
Some say the industrial revolution was the most critical step forward towards where we are today. However, the invention of the telephone and the birth of the internet are also historically significant aspects of the advancement to modern times.
Now, although this is not a simple, singular aspect of change, the results of COVID19 will once again be a watershed moment towards what will turn into the lifestyle of tomorrow. Couple hybrid or full WFH with the cloud services sector ever-so increasing in its usage for thousands of companies worldwide, communication and data transfer, storage, and more will never be the same again.
As the future of work will not always be within a company’s internet infrastructure, security risks will be as prevalent as ever. What we offer at Puffin will be the perfect solution to many of what a flexible, hybrid, or at-home worker would need to ensure their browsing and daily use are under sufficient protection. VPN and other local-based solutions cannot fully take care of every single threat out there, which is where Puffin Browser and more fill in these security gaps. The future is now, and we provide solutions to whatever threats you may face in the digital world.
But for the most part, regardless of where work will be, the dynamics within will most certainly have a revolutionary revamp. Even though experts did not expect many of these to happen for quite a few more years, but now is in motion due to the COVID of the last year and a half. The work you know will never operate the same way again.