Workplace changes that will last beyond COVID-19
27 Jul 2021
We asked the business, government and community leaders in our MFJ 2.0 Working Group which workplace trends they noticed, that they believed would last beyond COVID-19.
Five years of progress has been made in consumer and business digital adoption in just eight weeks and 38% of Australian businesses changed their delivery method and moved their business online.CSIRO COVID-19: Recovery and resilience
Use of job matching websites
Quick rollout and development of websites to match employers and job seekers based on skills (Jobs Finder and Jobs Hub) with their success creating future demand
Flexibility to establish new funding quickly
Introduction of JobKeeper and changes to payment structure for training providers providing certainty for employers at relatively short notice.
Blended training delivery
Many organisations shifted training and education services online to continue delivery. Feedback highlighted that post-COVID training will be more blended between digital and face-to-face
Quicker decision making
Business and government both implemented long-planned changes quickly during COVID (such as telehealth and working from home) as well as developed and delivered new things quickly (new COVID-safe training). Businesses have learnt they can adapt and change quickly and should continue to implement changes to what they do and how they do it.
Upskilling and reskilling of staff
Businesses have provided employees with significant opportunities to learn new skills and take on new roles during COVID e.g. Commonwealth Bank retail banking staff switching to supporting small business.
Focus on staff engagement and mental health
The shift to working from home placed a focus on staff engagement, burn out, and work-life balance. Strategies adopted during COVID to manage these challenges (such as regular engagement surveys and online hangouts) are likely continue.
We saw an acceleration of technology adoption (such as cloud data storage, remote working and online induction processes). Now those elements are embedded, employers are exploring how to make them sustainable in the long-term.
Access to Labour
Companies have built stronger mechanisms for employee engagement in remote work environments, which opens up labour pools that may not have been considered in the past due to location or proximity, such as regional or overseas employees.
Trying something different
Understanding that post-COVID society and the economy will be very different. There is a strong case for doing things differently and experiences during COVID have shown it is possible.
While the group expected some level of return to how things were before COVID-19 the consensus was that the more flexible, adaptable technology enabled workforce they had implemented is here to stay for the long-term.
Financial services and consultancy firm Deloitte characterised the significant move to working-from-home during the health crisis as requiring a new skillset because working pivoted to a ‘physical-digital hybrid environment’ where physical space is used when it is necessary to bring people together, but supported and augmented by the use of digital technology.
How much technology and other trends ultimately impact the world of work and what people do remains unclear, but what is clear from our engagement with the MFJ 2.0 Working Group is the world of work young people will be entering into in the short and long-term is constantly changing.
There could be huge opportunities, such as opening up more opportunities to regional young people through technology, but the risk is that without co-ordinated action young people will be locked into another decade of negative consequences. This could mean that despite being more educated, they will be more likely to experience unemployment for longer periods and when they find work it will be lower quality work for less money than previous generations.