Since the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the global workplace environment, many jobs took to the remote office space to ensure that operations could continue while keeping their workers safe. While this enormous shift in the workplace was in reaction to a terrible pandemic, it has revealed some much-needed benefits that many workers had been seeking for many years. The benefits discovered have led to a bevy of discussion, much on how workplaces can operate moving forward to ensure a comfortable work environment for all, whether they’re on-site or working from their home offices.
The Pandemic Has Been a Stressful Time for All
Perhaps the most obvious issue with the pandemic has been the changes in every day stress levels. While a lot of extroverted individuals claimed increased stress from working from home, the more introverted workers have reported greater productivity and less stress by working from home. Some of the reasons for the decrease in stress included:
- Asynchronous scheduling and workloads in companies allowed for workers to perform their work throughout the day at a manageable pace, lowering stress as a result.
- Email and other distance communication platforms such as Slack allowed workers to communicate at a more manageable pace.
- Companies were required to upgrade their methods in data storage and data sharing—this assisted in the streamlining of work, files, and workforce discussion, making it easier to get the information one needed and distribute completed work faster.
Disabled Individuals and Those Struggling with Neurodivergence Found Greater Productivity
Due to the ongoing stigma that is attached to people having disabilities, mental illness, or other non-neurotypical concerns, working remotely has allowed people struggling with those issues to generate more productivity, work with less stress, and generally feel happier working. There are a variety of struggles that many workers are going through who are equally afraid to disclose because of the general public stigma attached to them. ADHD, autism, PTSD, and other concerns often cause these workers to be treated differently and in a negative way—these individuals often find themselves passed over for promotions, left stuck in a position with little to no movement upwards, denied raises, or worse of all, they’re fired for simply being found out and othered.
It is hard for these individuals to also expose themselves. Stigma aside, there are many hurdles to provide proper documentation, and even the act of presenting that documentation can be traumatic and harmful because of the terrible stress of exposing their neurodivergent issues. There is then also the lack of equality in healthcare access—not everyone is able to get the treatment either, which can make them feel even more afraid of coming out with their issues.
Remote work, however, has shown that it is possible for these individuals to enjoy their job without having to worry about facing that stigma. As remote workers, they’re able to work better without the stress of being in the workplace where they’re faced with potential stigma and the pressure of working with peers who may navigate the physical workplace better than they do. Having at least the option for remote work can provide an equalizer for those who may struggle with mental illness or other types of neurodivergent struggles.
The Future of the Workplace May Involve More Remote Work
While the future of the workplace may not involve a full remote work renaissance, many are adopting a variety of flexible modes of work, hybrid work schedules, and of course, some are adopting a fully remote situation. Aside from services that require face-to-face interaction with customers, this may become an ongoing trend as companies also see the benefits of working remotely means tapping into a worldwide talent network.
No one can be certain about how the world will be in the next year or in the next ten years, but many are hoping that these changes to the workplace will remain to help those who benefit the most from working remotely, while also offering the option for those who wish to be in the office.
The main lesson to be learned here may be that a flexible workplace that allows differentiation for each workers’ individual needs can unlock greater productivity, increase worker happiness, and ensure smoother operations for the greater whole.
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