Our Managing Director, Victoria Brown, discusses flexible working and how we can embrace the return to the workplace in the article below.
The last year has forced every business owner to work flexibly whether they liked it or not. But was it really the best way to judge if it is a good option? When I work with a client to implement a home or flexible working approach, it is in a strategic and organised way.
Through no fault of our own, we literally had days to prepare our workforce to work from home. I have heard many stories of excessive monitoring, Zoom/Teams meetings with no breaks, lack of equipment, and no remote workstation assessments. I was walking my daughter to school last week and I was horrified to see a lady sitting in her front room at a makeshift work-station. She had 5 books piled up to support her monitor to be at eye-level height. I was tempted to knock on the door and ask for her Employer’s number and give them a piece of my mind!
In a recent poll that oneHR conducted, we found that 71% of people planned to introduce more flexible forms of working in the next six to twelve months. So what does this mean? There is a bit of an illusion at present that ‘flexible working’ means just working from home. That is the tip of the iceberg, in my opinion, flexible working needs to go beyond this i.e. giving employees more control over shifts/working hours, ability to job share and I would even stretch the term to the way in which we manage an employee’s workload…… The CIPD recently stated that Employees who feel more in control tend to have a better work/life balance. That said, it very much depends on the job role – as some do not lend themself to working from home or altered working patterns.
Many of my clients are turning to staff surveys to establish what people want. The common theme appears to be a ‘hybrid’ type option, with the ability to work from home some days, but also the need to be office-based for collaboration and embracing the business culture. Is it arguably too early to be trying to make these decisions? Ultimately, we still have difficult times ahead and we must remain business-focused. The needs of the client will have to be our number one priority to ensure the survival of the fittest. Once we understand the business need we can create an HR strategy to achieve this.
To embrace a flexible working approach there needs to be a shift in the mindset of Managers to focus on outputs rather than inputs. In addition, a key ingredient of successful flexible working is good communication. Therefore, it is vital that all employees receive training in order to use technology to its full advantage. This has been a learning curve for us all and the one sentence I think we are all sick of hearing in the last 12 months is ‘Can you hear me’ on a zoom call.
Another positive of adopting a flexible working approach is the attraction of talented women applying for more senior roles. Within my business, 65% of the workforce is women. That is no coincidence – our flexible approach and support of working parents is a key attraction to many women when they apply for a role.
I will be watching the next 12 months with interest to see how this all plays out. I suspect that many organisations that have given up their office leases and reverted to complete remote working, will start to see the cracks in this ideology soon.
If you would like to discuss your return to the workplace in more detail or would like to request a demo for oneHR, please don’t hesitate to contact the oneHR team today.