Putting people first in the future of work

100% Human at Work - The future of the workplace report
100% Human at Work
Holly Branson
Holly Branson's writing
Published on 2 December 2021

The past 20 months have redefined what many people are looking for at work; how they feel about their physical work environment; and what it means to feel healthy and safe. We’ve encouraged and seen the benefits of flexible working and putting people first at Virgin for many years now. The pandemic has forced many, many more organisations all over the world to do things differently too and revisit previously held assumptions about fully flexible and remote working.

As The Great Resignation sweeps across the globe, it has never been more important for businesses to put people at the heart of their decision making when it comes to the future of work and to understand how their decisions impact employee mental health and wellbeing.

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

In the summer, I wrote about a brilliant survey launched by the 100% Human at Work team, asking employees (not employers) at a wide range of companies how they feel about the future of their workplaces, their mental health and their ability to thrive. The survey got to the heart of how people really feel about the future of work and provides business leaders with real insight to help them make more people-driven decisions. 

It was fascinating to see the results of the survey and to read through the conversation paper that followed. I wasn’t at all surprised to read that 75% of employees said the way in which their company approaches flexible working will impact their decision to stay at the organisation. It was concerning though to see this coupled with insight that said 76% of employees do not have freedom to choose their future work environment. In fact, 43% of survey participants said they are currently thinking about finding a new job/leaving their current job. This contradiction fits in with the wider trend of a growth in resignations, due to workplaces refusing to adapt to the massive benefits of flexible and remote working, not only for the wellbeing of their people, but for increased productivity in the business! It’s hard for me to understand why businesses are ignoring this very obvious win-win! Beyond the survey insights, the paper also includes some brilliant excerpts from industry experts on important topics such as: combatting burnout; isolation and anxiety in the flexible workplace; creating a culture of belonging; building psychological safety; and creating new moments of joy at work. It was so inspiring to read through such articulate opinions that are entirely focused on the human perspective.

Holly Branson speaking to female entrepreneurs on a panel
David Watts

After reading the paper, I feel more strongly than ever that all conversations about the workplace should be addressed through a mental health and wellbeing lens. This conversation paper is a great way for any business leaders, executives and managers to adopt this perspective and to truly become people-first purposeful businesses!

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the paper and to the wonderful 100% Human at Work team for always reminding us that a business is nothing without its people, and everyone benefits when you put them first.

Read The Future of the Workplace conversation paper here.