Flexible Working Lessons From the Lockdown

Five weeks into the lockdown, those of us who are working from home are beginning to settle into a new routine. You might have struggled to stay productive working from home, or found it difficult to adjust to the ‘new normal’, but the feedback that I’m hearing is that overall individuals and organisations have quickly adapted to remote working. 

As we look towards an end to the lockdown measures – whether that’s in a matter of days, weeks or months – I think it’s important that we take stock of the positive developments and lessons that we’ve learned over the last five weeks. 

So what are some of the changes we’ve made to the way we work that we can carry into the next phase of this year? I’ve listed what I think are the most important ones below – feel free to let me know your own thoughts in the comments below.

1. Working from home works

I’ve spoken to several organisations over the past few weeks who had always planned to roll out remote working as an option for their staff – but hadn’t got around to it because of the need for planning, committees, discussion and red tape. The lockdown forced us to quickly adapt to new ways of working, and it’s showed that for many of us, flexible working is a viable option that brings with it a number of real benefits.

2. Reduced company costs

A client of mine recently shared the positives he’s found in meetings over Zoom and Microsoft Teams: a quarterly meeting that used to require a full day’s travel and an overnight stay has been replaced with a three-hour video conference call, with the same aims and objectives achieved. While it’s important we don’t lose the social aspect of company gatherings, reducing the need for travel could be an easy way to reduce organisational costs overall.

3, Reduced travel time 

One of the most common benefits I’ve heard from clients who were previously office-based is the amount of time saved by getting rid of the commute. Workdays are an hour or two shorter, and when the day’s work is done, instead of arriving home tired after a long drive, you’re already at home with time for family or hobbies.

4. Better communication 

With no face-to-face communication, we’ve all had to step up and ensure that teams stay connected. In many cases, this has resulted in better and more effective communication than we had before the lockdown began. Whether it’s a weekly catch-up or a ten-minute chat over coffee, regular check-ins have become more commonplace – and have shown us that we don’t need to be in the same room as our teams to stay connected.

5. Improved life balance

This is another positive that I’ve heard echoed by everyone I’ve spoken to recently. Working from home means that we can spend our work breaks productively, checking off small tasks like laundry or preparing dinner during the day, so when the work day is over, there’s more time left for family, reading, exercise – whatever it is that makes you feel in balance.

Of course, there are a few caveats to the benefits of working from home: we need to be careful to maintain the social aspect of work that can be lost when remote working. Staying in contact with your team is more important than ever, and making time for coffee breaks, water-cooler chats and downtime is key to making working from home viable in the long run. Remote working isn’t for everybody: while some of us have found new freedoms, others struggle with the isolation or balancing childcare and family commitments with work.

The answer isn’t a blanket transition to home-working across the board, but a measured approach that takes these new lessons into account. We’ve seen that working from home really works – the challenge now is integrating what we’ve learned in a way that creates more productivity, happier staff, and eventually an improved bottom line.

If you’d like some support, individually or for your organisation, for a remote working team or the transition out of lockdown, get in touch.


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