New job roles appear to manage new ways of working

As companies embrace more flexible ways of working and workplaces evolve to become more experience-oriented, tech-enabled and data-driven, it’s giving rise to new job roles

December 02, 2020

With many employees keen to continue working remotely on a regular basis, companies are creating new job roles to support and enable working life both inside and outside the office.

Social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Quora have all advertised for Directors or Heads of Remote Working. And with more roles in sectors from customer service to IT offering remote working, companies will need clear guidelines and support in place for managers and employees. 

“Hybrid working alternating between the office and other locations is now the preferred way,” explains Flore Pradere, Global Research Director at JLL. “People want more flexible schedules and the ability to work from home or co-working spaces for a couple of days a week.” 

JLL research shows that 75 percent of 2,033 employees surveyed expect their company to support them in remote working. It’s not just a case of providing the right technology platforms; it’s also about putting in place the right HR policies. 

On a practical level, remote workers need ergonomic workstations and easy access to tech support. Countries such as Spain have already implemented new laws around remote working for employees who spend more than 30 percent of their time outside the office. 

But it’s also about keeping employees engaged and on target through virtual channels, says Pradere. 

“During the pandemic, people made do with makeshift workstations and poor- quality video conferencing,” she explains. “Longer-term, however, companies must invest in their remote working practices, including providing the right equipment, employing specialist staff to support employees outside the office and training managers on how to supervise teams across different locations.”

Helping employees stay well

In forward-thinking companies, new job roles are also leading efforts to support the health and wellbeing of employees.

Five years ago, the emergence of Chief Happiness Officers raised a few eyebrows. Now, such roles are firmly established in companies such as Google and SAP – and titles such as Director of Wellbeing could become more commonplace, says Pradere.

JLL research shows that an extra 28 percent of employees say working in a company that looks out for their mental and physical health is now a priority, on top of the 29 percent who were already of that opinion before the pandemic.

“Mental health is one of the big challenges facing today’s HR teams,” says Pradere. “The pressure is on for people to be at their best all the time yet too many workplaces still don’t support that. What’s more, the pandemic has prompted employers to really take care of their employees as remote work takes its toll on mental health. Some 51 percent of employees say they are concerned about the future and 47 percent feel disenchanted with their company.” 

One key way is by providing more opportunities for employees to take a break during the working day through amenities such as relaxation areas or fitness facilities. Making flexible working hours a core part of a company’s culture is another. Encouraging such practices could fall under a Wellbeing Director’s remit, Pradere believes.

“Good mental health in the workplace is very much connected to building communities so people feel they not only belong but that they’re supported in their work,” she adds. “Employees now expect more – and companies need to respond if they’re to attract and retain the best people.”

She suggests that in the future companies could expand their health and wellbeing perks by offering virtual on-demand access to doctors, nutritionists and life coaches.

A new office experience

As companies rethink the role of the office, in-house hospitality is a growing focus. Baristas and concierges are increasingly common in client-facing areas but could equally become a core part of the new office experience.

“In the future, there’ll be less office space, but it will offer a premium service for everyone from the C-suite to new graduates,” says Pradere. “It’ll be about welcoming your people like clients and providing an experience they don’t have at home.”

Concierges, for example, could be on hand to address issues as they arise and ensure spaces are used as intended.

Behind the scenes too, more jobs will be needed to understand growing levels of data around how people are interacting with the workplace and how building systems are operating – especially as IoT develops. More companies than ever now have Chief Data Officers and the number of data analysts is increasing.

“It’s essential for companies to measure and understand their employees’ habits in the office,” says Pradere. “The office of the future will have to be worker-centric. Collecting and decoding this information is a complex task which will require specialist skills.”

And while technology itself will be a key enabler of new working models, the human element remains all-important.

“As we move to more hybrid ways of working, new job roles will be required,” Pradere concludes. “But at their heart, many of these will be about driving collaboration, building communities and supporting people’s wellbeing wherever they’re working from.”