2020 has been full of change and it’s been impossible to predict what’s round the corner. At Futureheads, we know that many of our community are finding the current climate incredibly difficult, especially those feeling anxious about their job prospects and wellbeing at work, or those who have found themselves back on the job hunt having recently been made redundant or taken off furlough.

That’s why we’ve been running a series of polls on LinkedIn to get a deeper understanding of how everyone is feeling about the winter months as well as the new set of restrictions. The aim is to provide business leaders and candidates with a useful picture of the current landscape as well as an idea of how everyone else is coping. It’s a mixed bag with some pleasantly surprising results. Here’s what we found…

Another lockdown?

We predicted it, but as we were slowly beginning to enjoy our freedom again and catching up with our friends and family more regularly, there’s no doubt lockdown number two still came as an unwelcome shock. Understandably, when we asked our community how they were feeling about these new restrictions, many said they were feeling deflated and anxious about the impact on their mental health. However, the majority (63%) did reveal a positive outlook, voting that their feelings were mixed but they were determined to use the time as a chance to re-focus.

With this in mind, we wanted to understand what everyone’s main priorities, concerns and challenges were as we enter another lockdown this November.

Concerns for mental health

If you’ve been struggling with your mental health over the past few months, don’t worry, you’re not alone. When we asked our following how they felt their mental health would be impacted by another set of restrictions, we received a record number of votes – a clear indicator that mental health is a top priority for most of us, be it your own or looking out for your colleagues or employees. With regards to the results, more than half (51%) said their mental wellbeing had already been affected, with another 15% anticipating it would be. 18% did vote that remote working had improved their mental health, however the main trend seems to be a strong feeling of anxiousness and uncertainty.

If you’re feeling anxious or concerned about your mental health, feel free to spend a few minutes reading our interview with Matt Bagwell on how to use breathwork to deal with stress. Plus, watch out for John Hipkiss’s addition on how to use laughter therapy to keep us sane!

Uncertain job prospects

There’s no doubt a significant contributor to this feeling of anxiety is the increasingly volatile job landscape. Businesses are having to constantly re-evaluate their strategies, back to office plans and their financial outgoings – and this means they are having to make difficult decisions about their team.

Fortunately, the tech industry has adapted relatively well to the pandemic and the job market has been starting to pick up again. However, with new restrictions back in place, we asked our following if they were worried that this return to remote working would negatively impact the job market – the results were interesting:

35% voted that they were already seeing this trend, however the majority (40%) believed that the market was adapting to remote workflows, and 19% even voted that remote work was creating more job prospects. This was an incredibly positive outcome and in line with what we have been seeing at Futureheads.

On job sites, searches for ‘remote work’ have increased 60% globally since March, and in the UK, views of remote jobs are 2.5% higher, and applications for these roles have increased by 189%.

To see how this trend had changed since the announcement of new restrictions, we asked businesses whether they were offering remote work positions. A significant 75% said their team were fully remote already, whilst another 25% said they offer some remote positions. From this, it seems more and more businesses (if not all) are increasingly adapting to remote workflows and offering greater flexibility to candidates.

Remote work challenges

While remote work positions have rapidly become the norm, there have been some concerns for the long-term impact of this time away from the office. Face-to-face interaction with the team is one of many invaluable benefits that come from being in the office – and we were interested to find out more about where everyone else stood in the working from home versus office debate.

Firstly, we wanted to explore whether employees felt bored or demotivated due to continued time away from workplaces. Surprisingly, half disagreed with this sentiment, instead voting that they hadn’t noticed a change, or were in fact more motivated as a result of working from home. On the other hand, half voted that they were demotivated or were beginning to be. From this, it’s clear everyone has coped with working from home differently – let’s hope when offices re-open, this flexibility will continue, enabling employees to have the option to choose their workplace depending on what works for them.

For business leaders, however, there seems to be a significant concern (41%) that this means it will be harder to implement back to office plans the longer employees work from home. However, 44% didn’t believe it would be affected, or weren’t concerned as they were switching to permanent remote workflows.

Nurturing work culture in lockdown

So, while remote working is a preference for some, but posing increasing challenges for others, it’s unlikely teams will be returning to the office as often as before – yet, this is leaving many business leaders concerned about how to sustain a strong work culture in the absence of an office.

According to LinkedIn, 39% of business leaders say their company culture has been negatively impacted due to remote working. When we posed the same question to our following, it got everyone talking, with over 100 votes. Interestingly, the results were a mixed bag: 46% believed working from home had diluted their company culture, and were concerned that this trend would continue as a result of further restrictions. However, half also voted they hadn’t noticed a difference and were finding effective ways of cultivating a remote culture.

In light of this, we wanted to find out how these businesses were nurturing their remote culture – and which methods they believed were most effective. Checking in often on calls received the most votes (32%), while care packages were also a popular option delivering 27% of the vote. Virtual socialising was another popular choice, with showing appreciation receiving 18% of the vote.

Conclusions: uncertain but prepared

Overall, it’s no surprise that everyone is feeling increasingly anxious about the months ahead. New ways of working, an ever-changing job market and a lack of interaction with our work teams are posing many new challenges – with a noticeable impact on our mental health.

Despite this, there are undoubtedly some silver linings; business’s willingness to adapt means remote work positions are on the rise, leaving employees with more flexibility than ever, and leaders are having to think more tactically about how to nurture culture and wellbeing in the absence of the office.

At Futureheads, the general consensus is that we know what to expect – we can take onboard the lessons from March, entering November feeling more prepared and confident that we can deal with the challenges of another lockdown. By adapting and pivoting our business last time, we can now say our number of registered new jobs returned to pre-covid levels for the first time last week. Plus, there’s a vaccine on the horizon (it may still be just outside the platform – but it’s close!)

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