With a vaccination rollout underway and lockdown being eased, are businesses considering employee wellbeing and appetite to return to the office or are they simply looking at their bottom-line, assuming the workforce is happy and making a decision for future working practices without careful consideration?
Leadership recruitment specialist, Anna Knight believes employers who focus on agreed employee output rather than trying to emulate the old presenteeism nature of 9-5 office life should thrive in a prolonged home or blended working environment.
As a Regional Director at Head Resourcing, Anna Knight leads the Talent Solutions and Senior Appointments teams where, alongside her team, she strategically matches clients and candidates in roles across the UK and Ireland. While businesses plan for the future, Anna challenges them to consider if their workforce is equipped with the skills and resource, but also willingness to continue to work in a home environment.
For many businesses remote working was forced upon them however has resulted in cost saving benefits including downsizing premises and minimal employee expenses – but is the workforce surviving rather than thriving with the new way of working?
Anna said: “As a nation, many of us simply reacted to the forced situation of home working rather than it being a deliberate move with a well-thought out strategic business and people plan behind it. It has remained in place for much longer than anyone initially anticipated and has generated mixed outcomes.
“For some individuals it has provided more flexibility and work life balance, and for businesses it has cut down on their overheads, but this isn’t the case for everyone. Employees who miss the social interaction of an office environment or simply don’t have a suitable remote working space with blurred lines between work and home life – have an appetite to return to the office. Working from the sofa or kitchen table might seem clichéd, but it’s the daily reality for many.
“Initially the structure of the working day was expected to continue at home as it would in the office, similarly in workforce output expectations – but is this appropriate? I believe it’s much more successful to focus on goal-based outcomes rather than force staff to recreate the office 9-5 regimen when in an incompatible environment. For example allowing for childcare, additional wider family responsibilities and home-schooling during traditional 9-5 working hours. Also some people may have relocated or taken on additional work or training to compensate for impacts on household income – people’s lives have changed so they can’t simply slot into old formats.
“Ultimately we don’t know when or if we will return to offices full-time but if a business opts for a fully remote future, they need to ensure their overall culture, objectives and strategies align. It’s possible that old hiring criteria may need to be adjusted to incorporate new skills required for remote working such as self-discipline in the form of knowing when to ‘switch off’, enhanced communication styles and ability to communicate and cooperate effectively remotely. They also need to update and define their policies on training and development, personal health and wellbeing as well as provide the tools to support remote collaboration.
“Future ways of working should be strategically planned and not simply accepted or forced and it’s the businesses who do this most successfully who will encourage a more diverse and fruitful workforce.”
If you want to chat further about planning for a hybrid working environment, please get in touch with Anna over here.
The information contained in this press release does not constitute business advice and should not be acted on as such. This content is based on our understanding in March 2021.