Why 2022 Will be a Turning Point in How People Work
The severity of mental health issues derived from a poor work-life balance has been getting attention for many years now, but it was only when a global pandemic hit that we felt its most damaging effects on a global scale. The new realities of working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, or lack of physical contact with other people, are just a few of the reasons why some believe that the coronavirus crisis poses the greatest threat to mental health in recent history.
However, even though the pandemic has played a large part in the current mental health crisis, company policies encouraging overtime and people’s unhealthy approach towards workaholism have been feeding into this crisis for years.
If in 2020 - 2021 many employees found themselves working from home and not able to disconnect from work, 2022 might just serve as the tipping point that brings us a definitive change in the way we work.
So, what is driving change in the way we work in 2022?
No more glamorising workaholism
We’ve seen it in many forms: people bragging on social media about hustling and working on weekends, movies glamorising working late every day followed by 7am meetings, and companies encouraging working late to “get ahead”.
But all that is currently changing. If before the pandemic, overworking was appealing to our desire to be like the 1%, the realities of several lockdowns and a general burnout among employees are now too real to ignore. And this is why we’re seeing a shift in mentality.
This year more and more companies have set out to prioritise mental health through benefits such as paid childcare, flexible scheduling and “mental health days”. They promote well-being by encouraging employees to use their vacation days or providing access to apps that support stress management. These changes, and others to come, are shaping 2022 as the year of “work smarter, not harder”, with people prioritising productivity over long hours, better time management over Friday evenings at the office, and mental health over burnout.
Single-tasking vs Multitasking
Part of glorifying intense working schedules was tied to the idea of multitasking. The image of someone sitting at their laptop, jumping from one task to another, was synonymous with the hard-working employee.
Recent studies suggest that multitasking can actually lower productivity by reducing the attention span and overall performance; this perception is now changing, and people are starting to understand the benefits of focusing on one task at a time. If multitasking slows employees down and makes them prone to mistakes, single-tasking promotes self-discipline and effectively produces output.
Many companies will introduce the 4-day work week
As more and more tech companies have been appearing over the past years, the number of people who can do their job from home has grown exponentially. Naturally, many began requesting flexible hours and remote working, with little success; these requests were largely ignored in pre-pandemic times. In 2020, however, most companies were forced to close their offices and conduct their businesses from home.
Fast-forward 2 years, 76% of employees say they do not want to return to full-time office work. Given the record number of resignations, more and more companies are expected to compromise and introduce a 4-day work week in 2022.
Mental health will (finally) become a priority
According to the World Health Organization, two of the most common mental health conditions, depression and anxiety, cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year. But if mental health problems have such an impact on economies worldwide, then why haven’t companies and employees alike reacted earlier?
Many feared it would impact productivity and, ultimately, the bottom line. However, recent studies, such as the one done by the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, show that overworking increases stress and affects employee loyalty, which significantly impacts employee turnover – and ultimately business success. Therefore, companies are starting to be more receptive to improving working conditions and prioritising a healthy schedule. Flexible hours or the liberty to work either remotely or from the office are just some of the changes more and more companies will implement in 2022 to prioritise the mental health of their employees.
Many believe 2022 is the year when many things will go back to pre-pandemic standards, but the way we work isn’t one of them. The shift in mentality primarily comes from companies and employees prioritising mental health over long hours and stressful schedules. Introducing “mental health days”, the 4 day work week, flexible hours and ceasing to glorify workaholism are just some of the changes we expect to see in 2022.