The following data is reported as at Q2/2021
“We fear change.” A line from the 1992 cult comedy Wayne’s World, but also a mantra firmly bedded deep within the human psyche. In fact, psychologically, we naturally fear change because we are unable to anticipate the outcome. We have a collective fear of the unknown. Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, says that people will choose unhappiness over uncertainty. Which is why the next decisions leaders take on workplace will be critical.
In the early part of 2020, the world experienced the largest, sudden change of ways of working in modern times. Thinking back, it almost feels like the shift happened over night. Organisations across the globe were forced to think on their feet and send their knowledge workers home while CRE, IT and HR teams were working hard to make it happen.
Leesman data suggests that the transition went quite well. With data from almost a year and a half of home working at hand, we can conclude that a large proportion of employees have had quite an outstanding experience working from home. The average home working experience, measured by H-Lmi, across the 221,841 home workers who have responded to our survey since the start of the pandemic, is 73.8, where a score of 70.0 or above is what we would classify as outstanding.
Organisations were either already well equipped, or managed to mobilise fast, to ensure that their employees had the digital tools they needed to work away from the corporate office. We see this in 80.9% of employees agreeing that they have the IT devices and tools they need, and 90.6% agreeing that they have access to the software applications and programmes they need to work from home. And even though Zoom-fatigue is now a thing, we can only conclude that video conferencing is generally better supported from the comfort of our homes (89.4% say it’s supported) compared to in the office (66.9%).
Adaptation certainly also happened at the individual employee-level. Employees did their best to get through the situation, even though we do know that the sense of connection to your colleagues and the organisation has suffered. Our data suggests that, where possible, employees have made the effort to carve out space for working at home, if possible. In 2019, 34% of the respondents who could work from home reported that they work from a non-work specific location at home, compared to 25% after approximately 18 months of home working (at the end of June 2021).
All in all, what we saw in early 2020 was the largest and fastest change in ways of working so far. As a change programme, it gets an A+. But now there’s another change ahead, and this one may be just a bit trickier.
Kurt Lewin was a German-American psychologist, born in Poland before later emigrating to the United States. He is known as one of the pioneers of modern social psychology.
Lewin’s well-known model of how to implement change involves three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing.