In March 2020, businesses across the UK were forced to determine which job roles could be performed from home quite literally overnight due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Three months on and the Government advice remains that wherever possible, employees should continue to work from home.
Below we explore how employers who are willing to evolve and consider a new normal like we have seen from some of the large technology companies, such as Twitter can take advantage of our new-found ability and skills to work remotely and flexibly.
For those businesses willing to roll with the times and hire remote workers, hiring new talent will no longer necessarily mean from within a geographical radius of the office. Instead, companies who can allow employees to work remotely beyond the current crisis can take full advantage of a much larger talent pools as they will no longer be constricted by geography.
Flexible working is of course not a new phenomenon for forward-thinking companies. Research has found that by being more flexible, businesses have found a boost in employee morale, discretionary effort and staff retention. If a business decides now is the time to re-think their flexible & remote working practices as a long term strategy, they too may find they are reaping the rewards, such as lower staff turnover and associated costs to re-hire new talent.
We are yet to see the full impact of the pandemic on the economy. However, if your workforce has been working remotely and more flexibly over the past three months without a glitch, now may be the time to re-think whether your business really does need that large, expensive office space after all. Instead, it is worth re-considering what if any space you need, particularly as social distancing is not likely to disappear overnight. It may be that your business moves to a social hub for your remote and flexible working employees to meet up or it may be that your business needs no space at all with many employees now using virtual meetings, through the likes of Microsoft Teams and Zoom as a way to chat, collaborate and hold meetings.
Finally, employees who are working remotely are reporting that they are much more efficient and have less distractions than when they are based within the office environment. Again, this is not a new phenomenon and there has been research showing the link between increased productivity and remote working for some time, but now many companies have had the opportunity to test this out to some degree as a result of the pandemic and home working rules. Time will tell beyond the current crisis, but companies may also benefit from an increase in productivity levels as we move out of the current lockdown.
What do employees want from a new normal?!?
Working from home gives employees more autonomy to work around their personal commitments. For example, they may be more effective working outside of the usual 9-5 hours and with no commute to work, it gives employees more time within their day to go for a run, do the school run or put the washing on instead of making another cuppa in the office.
Of course, managing employees remotely, requires a different management approach and one that we believe needs to be built on trust, with objectives and a clear measure of performance and output. There are also other considerations, including ability to use technology in the longer term and the opinions and attitudes of your staff in terms of remote and flexible working, with some preferring to be office based and reporting feelings of isolation and loneliness, particularly when working 100% of their time remotely.
It is therefore worth considering your current options and long-term business goals and how a new normal may fit and help you achieve those aspirations.