‘Work from anywhere’ is far from utopia
As offices emptied themselves into homes, our always-connected and online world witnessed a blurring of boundaries between work and personal life.
This transition has given rise to many challenges (as discussed in Part II) including the lack of private spaces, usual child-care and support, efficient internet connections and the necessary work from home equipment. There are many for whom ‘home’ is not a safe space, given the rise in domestic violence  and LGBTQ+ suicides  across the world during lockdown.
These challenges, combined with COVID-related anxiety, have piled stress on relationships, affected mental and physical health, and begun to impact work. Simply having a wider view of a workforce’s varied experiences and contexts puts organizations in a position to help alleviate some of the issues. Understanding who is caring for children, or living with vulnerable people is key.
Some of the actions we took at ThoughtWorks include:
- Offering support, and providing networks to carers. In the UK, for example, we offered additional caregivers leave and in Germany we offered 20% time allowance for those with child-care duties. Several regions offered an additional allowance for WFH equipment.
- Internal surveys and pulse checks during this time have helped us understand what anxieties and challenges people face, to ensure we can offer the right support.
- Mental health and wellness have been prioritized across the globe, with countries offering awareness sessions, 1:1 counselling support and workshops on peer to peer counselling
- In China, everyone checked in with their office leadership team daily, updating on their own and their families' health.
- Leadership connect has been critical in assuring people that we care, from town-halls and team connects to online roadshows and 1:1 sync ups.
- Internal Communication and people engagement are cornerstones of stability during a crisis. We've engaged on many levels, including games, challenges, work-outs and regional COVID information hubs.
Accountable beyond your ‘walls’
In the recent Case for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0  (World Economic Forum, June 2020) the moral, legal and economic responsibilities of organizations have been called out. The report highlights the need for businesses to take greater accountability not just for the impact they have on their employees but also on the broader communities in which they operate and serve, working towards positive social change and equity for all.
This is a time to integrate diversity, inclusion and equity practices in all aspects of the workplace and our society - we should not let this opportunity pass. The time of COVID-19 has been difficult for all, but the lessons learned can, and should, set us on course for a more equitable & inclusive future.