July 7, 2020
After the lockdown
As things begin to return to normal, we have an opportunity to remake our working lives in new and better ways. Coronavirus will have a long-lasting effect on how and where people choose to work.
What will the world look like as we return to work? and what is the new ‘normal’? Of all the things that have changed over the last few months, what has served us well? and what will we choose to keep?
For sure, the use of Zoom has enabled a virtual workplace and teleconferencing for all, most of us will do less business travel and it’s unlikely many will miss commuting.
Working from home
It seems that there has been no significant impact on the quality of people’s work; most have found they complete their work to the same standard, whilst also flexing their hours so they can take time to do other activities during normal working hours such as household chores, exercising and home-schooling their children.
Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the RSA, says: “Encouraging flexible work is good for everyone and has been shown to have a positive impact on productivity, worker retention and quality of work.”
Advances in communications and collaborative technology makes remote and home working a viable reality for both employees and employers. Organisations must adapt and institute strong remote working practices with the best technology to support secure, reliable and effective work structures and processes for office-based staff and remote colleagues.
The distance based difference
Whitehall officials at the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department are said to be considering allowing employees to operate remotely after restrictions are lifted. The decision would make it easier for people to social distance, as well as reduce costs for employers who will be expected to make office spaces safe.
Organisations are seeing the benefit of shifting their employees from the workplace to home space. Office space is expensive, and savings are not just financial but environmental too – less traffic means less pollution and less noise.
It’s not all rose-tinted of course; some find working from home lonely, missing the camaraderie of the workplace, even the quibbling about whose turn it is to make tea! There’s also the lack of creative company, sharing ideas and the casual collaboration that is afforded through social interaction; and the ‘eureka’ moments are less likely to occur in email, or by teleconference.
Managing at a distance
If a manager wants everyone at work to check what they are doing, and if that manager doesn’t trust team members to pull their weight if they are not closely supervised, that’s a problem for the manager. It’s possible, even if you can’t see staff to create a winning culture, vision, inspiration and purpose all of which are critical to success even where there is a lack of physical association.
It’s smart to support remote staff with regular, scheduled check-in calls and to provide them with a choice of communication platforms. Don’t forget social interaction, it’s a basic human need, and we know you can hold a fun birthday party online, we did it recently. Happy hour by video-conference can promote a sense of belonging and provide an out of office morale booster.