The ways in which the workplace has evolved over the years are vast. The age of information and technology has given rise to paradigm shifts within the workplace itself, transforming the traditional 9-to-5 grind into a more flexible, diverse, agile, and collaborative environment suitable for each individual.
Though flexible and remote work arrangements were already in place long before the COVID-19 pandemic, it further changed the workplace as we know it. Organizations worldwide had to reconfigure their overall approaches to prioritize the safety and wellbeing of their employees. For most, this meant going virtual.
Two years later, as economies begin to re-open, companies continue to acclimatize to the permanent structural and cultural changes brought about by the pandemic.
Some of these changes were welcome transitions and addressed certain problems already faced by individuals in the workplace. For instance, remote work eliminates the difficulties of long commutes and the individuals’ stress from physically working in a hostile environment. Meanwhile, flexible or hybrid arrangements enable more work-life balance and time with one’s family.
However, with the realities of working in the modern age, it is inevitable for individuals to encounter new and existing challenges in the workplace. Here are some of the modern workplace’s most common challenges, along with how both organizations and individuals can overcome them.
Increased dependence on technology results in increased complexity in running the business. Companies must use varied software for management, communication, and other functions. While this means that there are more ways to ensure that each part of the organization is performing, it also makes it a more complicated task.
This challenge also applies to roles. With more and more organizations following a less traditional hierarchy or structure, individual roles are becoming increasingly complex. This is especially true as companies seek to keep individual functions diverse, sometimes resulting in employees becoming overburdened with responsibilities.
It is easy for managers and employees to become overwhelmed with so much to work with. When it comes to technology, it is best to keep things simple. Identify one-stop, multitasking software that works for you. While innovation is always encouraged, recognizing that experimenting with too many things at a time can end up doing more harm than good.
Meanwhile, roles are best kept diverse to nudge individuals toward their best performance. Defining each role’s core responsibilities is crucial to avoid overlapping tasks. In any case, an open line of communication can help reduce conflicts.
As workplaces become more diverse and unconventional, there is an emphasis on communication and effective collaboration. Hybrid and remote arrangements bring about the challenges of varying time zones, technological setbacks, and productivity tracking.
However, the other usual challenges are still there, like cultural differences, lack of morale in the team, and other strains on employee-management relationships. More grave disputes that management should be cautious of include discrimination, harassment, and any form of bullying.
Managers should strive to promote equality and fairness in their dealings, whether it be performance assessments, opportunities for advancement, or recruitment—and this includes directly addressing negative attitudes or behaviors.
To help individuals in managing stress in the workplace, leaders must make each employee heard. Regularly encourage and welcome a healthy cycle of feedback; employees should feel free not only to air their grievances but also to question what works for the team. This will help keep them more engaged and involved and thus result in a more productive, smoothly collaborative workforce.
With technology evolving at a pace not always easy for organizations to keep up with, it can pose a problem in terms of security. Data protection should be a crucial focus of any modern workplace as security breaches and data loss could significantly put the company at risk.
People in management roles might not always find it easy to oversee their colleagues and their tasks through various apps and software. Therefore, organizations need to invest in good IT infrastructure. The management should also keenly collaborate with their IT departments to determine and maintain the technology that brings the organization—and the individual—the most value.
Employees must also feel safe enough using their devices meant for work. If it is within the company's budget, it would be best to provide each employee with their own devices so they can easily separate work and personal lives.
The organization should also supply other IT-related basics, including a subsidy for fast-performing internet provider, VPN, and access to necessary software. Data backup is also an essential practice to minimize risk.
An inevitable challenge for any workforce is delivering despite a shortage of resources. Whether this means the organization is low on budget for a particular project or low on talent, it is always more difficult to attain the desired outcomes with these constraints. Unfortunately, it is very much a reality that organizations have to deal with by working with what they’ve got.
For projects or tasks, managers need to carefully assess the situation, monitor their existing resources, and map them against the expected productivity. Stretching the available resources doesn’t necessarily mean doing so until you reach a breaking point—instead, it has to do with making decisions on higher priority tasks, close monitoring, and managing expectations.
The fear of uncertainty affects all organizations, big and small. In light of recent events, uncertainty has been on an all-time high at organizational and individual levels. The anxiety surrounding what the future holds is perfectly understandable. Businesses might be stable at the moment, but what happens when things turn shaky again? How can each employee be assured of security in their jobs?
While there is no way to be assured of what happens in the future, organizations can take practical steps to ease doubts and manage expectations. Transparency is key—let employees know what’s going on with the business, how it’s performing, and what your goals are. Consult employees for ways the whole team can improve. Highlight everyone’s value while outlining growth opportunities.
Most importantly, be human and kind—assure them that periods of uncertainty can be endured together.
The modern workplace looks much different from what it was decades ago—and it might even look drastically different a couple of years from now. While the workplace of the future still looks unclear, we can be sure that things are evolving for the better.
Challenges like security, increased complexity, a shortage of resources, unsuccessful collaboration, and uncertainty notwithstanding, how the modern workplace will continue to evolve into a more diverse, more open, and better workplace is a promising pursuit for all organizations.
Author Bio: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is a leading provider of HR solutions, including recruiting, onboarding, employee engagement, and intranet software. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, employee productivity, and to save you valuable time!