Post Covid workplace flexibility
As we sit in Melbourne, in yet another lock down, I can’t help but think no matter what happens in the next year or two or three, the face of our work life has changed for ever. Over the last eighteen months we have proven that our traditional model based on everyone being in the office face to face from 9 till 5 Monday to Friday, is a thing of the past. Nowhere has this change had more impact than the office environment. I don’t think anyone would suggest being locked down at home on our own or with a houseful of people, all trying to work or study is ideal. In particular our thoughts have to go out to the parents who have the additional challenge of managing periods working and home schooling simultaneously. While we all hope that won’t go on, aspects of the new normal are here to stay.
While many, many businesses have struggled through this time and unfortunately some have not made it, many others have found that despite the initial alarm and chaos, we have managed ok. For those of us who have been able to continue working, thanks to technology, we have been able to maintain our workload “as normal”.
Experience is showing us that allowing employees to have the flexibility to work remotely can have all sorts of benefits in the long run for them personally and for the business.
Having some flexibility means you can make the most of the time you do spend in the office. We can be so much more productive if all the other bits and pieces life requires can be done alongside. No need to take days off to go to the dentist, no need to spend lunch time running about doing errands, if you can make up that time in the evening.
As an employer encouraging your staff to utilise this sort of flexibility, you not only create a workplace of happy loyal employees but the financial benefits of having less people on site, less desks and less physical space can be beneficial to your bottom line as well.
The new normal also brings some cautions. We all miss aspects of being together in a workplace. The social aspects of work are important, particularly for people living alone, the social isolation can be a huge issue. For others, the office can provide a welcome reprieve from home.
There is so much you miss when not communicating face to face. There are nuances and body language that can’t be picked up on a video link or phone call.
Another thing to keep in mind is the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ issue when it comes to promotion and other opportunities. While all promotions should be judged on merit which should not rely on you being physically present, we are still to evaluate the impact of promotion decisions on those staff who rarely come in to the office in the new hybrid models.
All of these issues are manageable and not reasons to head back to the old way of working but they do need to be kept in mind and strategies put in place to ensure the well being of employees and the organisation.
However you want to set up your workplace for success, if the last eighteen months has taught us anything going forward, being prepared, agile and planning for anything will have to be standard heading into a the future.