The post pandemic era challenges employers to generate real change and transformation. It provides the opportunity to move away from the old ways of thinking and working. It gives organisations the chance to step back and reflect on why, how and what might work best in terms of “Hybrid / Blended” ways of working.
Leaders and managers are the “Gatekeepers” (or barriers!) to building real flexibility. They need to shift from counting the hours people work and valuing presenteeism, to measuring the output of what is actually delivered. The success of homeworking during this pandemic has enabled a reflection on when and where employees perform at their best. This has necessitated a focus on “outputs” (not inputs) without observation. In turn this has helped to build trust and mutual respect.
Today’s leaders and managers must be mindful of the different types of flexibility that they can offer. A focus on fairness and inclusion (no bias) is also required.
“Flexibility is not a straight line, we are looking at resourcing engagements on fairness rather than convenience” - Quote from Sarah Churchman, Chief Inclusion, Community and Wellbeing Officer, PwC.
“We are moving beyond the 9 to 5 when we all had to go to the same place at the same time to “do work”; technology has allowed us to do that.” – Quote from Gemma Dale, lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University and author of Flexible Working: How to implement flexibility in the workplace to improve employee and business performance.
As we approach an end to lockdown employers might be well served by;
1. Production of a strategy for post pandemic ways of working - incorporating a true hybrid solution.
2. Moving beyond the reactive 'Lift and Shift' solutions that have been generated during the pandemic to a more sustainable, agile and proactive methodology.
3. Building understanding of the breadth and depth of 'flexible' working options with your leaders and managers to ensure actions and behaviour change enables and considers the following:
- Work/life balance
- Work/life integration
- Mental health
- Compassion and empathy
- Increased levels of emotional intelligence
- Effective collaboration
- Fairness, inclusion and diversity
- Trust building
- Self-development and group/team development opportunities
- Brainstorming opportunities (enabling creativity/innovation)
- Performance management
- Productivity measurement
- Client management and client facing activity
- Training in use of technology/online tools (to ensure effective communication)
- Promotion process and career development tools
- Job design
- Job share opportunities
The pandemic has led many organisations to think that they have cracked “flexible working” with the “lift and shift” from office work to home working. However, as the labour markets begin to move again and employees reflect on their choices, they may well vote with their feet, in search of a better way of working!
TWO QUESTIONS TO PROVOKE DISCUSSION:
Q1. Uncertainty and change is constant in today’s volatile, complex and ambiguous world. The pandemic provides us opportunities and threats in abundance….so what is your stance on moving to true a hybrid / blended working style OR will you attempt to revert to the “old ways” of working as we come out of lockdown?
Q2. Regardless of your choice…..Why, what and how will you do that?