Surviving or thriving with flexible working
I completed my MSc in 2005 comparing Work Life Balance between Scotland and Australia. Offering an engaging and flexible workforce is known to improve productivity (Gallop, 2020).
Before lockdown, many employers struggled to consider flexible working on a permanent basis. Recent research tells us that around 37 per cent of employees will be working from home on a regular basis following lockdown. What are the opportunities to your business should this be the case?
I personally have found homeworking far more productive due to less distractions and reduced travel time. I have worked a longer day but taken the time to focus when I felt best able to concentrate rather than working set hours. I have kept connected with many colleagues at the touch of a button. I have had balanced opportunities to eat better, exercise and spend time dealing with the mundane housework tasks in small chunks whilst taking a mandatory break from my PC. However, I have not been able to get the same pulse on what's happening on the ground and the difficult and sensitive discussions felt hard doing these remotely. That said, there are opportunities for me to use technology to enhance employee communication and engagement further and "remote chat rooms" are not new!
In terms of the challenges, not every role can be done remotely and there are concerns that the workforce will become divided. It may, of course, increase resentment and conflict between different departments but good management can prevent this. Not every employee can be fully productive at home due to distractions, insufficient work spaces or they simply need to have social contact.
In reality, the future of work for some roles is likely to offer a blended approach with some hours in the office and some at home. In the short term, this fits with our social distancing demands. In the long term, I wonder if this offers the chance to reduce real estate costs as offices downsize to accommodate the changes? We know it will offer the chance for better work life balance which increases productivity and reduces absenteeism due to the flexibility of dealing with life's demands.
Let's consider opportunities to change rather than threats. If you'd like to discuss this further, I'd love to have a chat.