What “new normal” should we expect from the COVID-19 recovery?

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We’ve all heard the phrase “new normal” at this point—months into grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and dealing with the effects it’s had on our lives. Our routines, our families, and our careers have all changed to some degree.

But what exactly is the new normal? How do we define it? Better yet, how do the world’s workers define it?

That’s exactly what the Adecco Group aimed to identify in a recent study. We assessed the attitudes towards work of 8,000 people across eight countries, including the U.S. The findings have revealed five trends in how views of work have been reshaped through recent challenges.

Trend #1: Hybrid Working

While the desire for greater workplace flexibility had been steadily rising thanks to improvements in technology and work-from-home capabilities, the option wasn’t necessarily widely offered. When the desire became a necessity for safety reasons, we quickly realized what type of work is possible from home and built new routines around it.

The survey found that 76% of people believe a mix of office-based and remote working is optimal, and 83% want more flexibility in how and where they work. While that may not be possible for all workplaces, the appetite is there and growing.

It’s clear though, that working from home does require a commitment from employers to offer their employees the right equipment. As an Adecco USA client recently put it, “Being able to see how we can do things like help them with their broadband and provide additional screens at home, so they continue that detailed work that’s really hard on a laptop.”

Trend #2: Results over Hours

Part of learning how to work remotely is figuring out how to organize your day. What’s special about the hours of 9-to-5 when you’re inside the same walls for 24 hours? We’ve had to learn to work while our kids are around, find support from our families to get work done, and maintain a healthy mental state with so much additional pressure.

What’s emerged is a desire to track results, not just hours spent working. 73% of people want to revisit the traditionally uncontested length of the working week, and 75% believe more weight should be placed on getting a job done rather than punching the clock. And these beliefs are rapidly becoming reality for millions of American workers from coast-to-coast.

Trend #3: Leadership Who Cares

Figuring out how to work from home, taking care of yourself as the hours and days blend together… it’s been a tough few months. It’s now crystal clear that the best leaders are those with a high degree of awareness and empathy over how their teams are managing, or not managing. We want to feel a sense of job security and be satisfied by the relationship with our leaders. Per the survey, 82% of people want to be led by someone who offers a supportive attitude and understands this storm we’re in, beyond the numbers and hours.

As discussed in a McKinsey & Company article, “A ‘landscape crisis’ such as COVID-19 strips leadership back to its most fundamental element: making a positive difference in people’s lives.”

Trend #4: Digital Upskilling

The necessity of working from home has pushed our adoption of technology and how we get things done, with 65% of those surveyed feeling their skills have improved as a consequence of remote working. 78% of people are hungry to learn more job skills, and 29% have decided they’d change jobs within the same sector if they had the opportunity to learn new skills—even digitally and remotely.

Keeping people engaged and demonstrating that there’s room to grow is an important key to retaining top talent and keeping them engaged. This also rings true for the many unemployed Americans who are positioning themselves to be more appealing to prospective employers.

Trend #5: Here’s Looking at You, Boss

Through it all, who is going to define the new normal, as we emerge from all of the challenges the pandemic has presented? It’s our employers. An incredible 94% of people have shared that their managers met or exceeded their expectations over the past few months. More than any other institution, including governments or unions, employers are the most responsible for ensuring a better working world after the pandemic according to 84% of respondents. So, while the pressure is on, most employers are delivering.

Closing Thoughts

Learning to work remotely, grapple with the clock, maintain mental health, and encourage professional development—These are the challenges that employers have the power and responsibility to address. And these insights just scratch the surface of what’s been discovered in our #ResetNormal campaign launching this week. If you’d like to discover how you can jump ahead of the curve as a leader in the American workplace, explore the full campaign by visiting the website.

Reset Normal – The Adecco Group