Our recent survey showed that working from home offers numerous benefits for many workers – and their employers. Respondents indicated that overall we are more productive, better motivated with increased job satisfaction when working from home.
I’ve spoken to lots of businesses who are now planning to make changes to the way they work – in fact only 7% of businesses surveyed plan to return to the way they were before the lockdown. I think this is a really positive development to have come out of the upheaval of the last 12 weeks: a better work-life balance for employees and a better bottom line for businesses.
However, while we look towards a flexible working future it’s important that we consider the challenges that these changes will bring about. Here are a few of the most important points to consider if you’re a business planning to move to flexible working.
- Consider staff wellbeing and mental health concerns
Working remotely comes with its own set of challenges: away from the office environment, employees can feel isolated and problems that do arise may pass under the radar.
Consider one day per week or month in the office for staff working from home, when they can connect with the rest of the team face-to-face and catch up. Workplace messenger apps like Slack can be set up with channels for general chit-chat or discussion of ideas.
- Communication is key
When staff are working from home, we lose out on the opportunity to stop by someone’s desk or pass them in the hallway for a quick chat. Planned, regular check-ins are essential and will help make sure no one slips through the cracks – why not meet for a coffee over Zoom or FaceTime?
- Acknowledge that for some workers, home-working isn’t viable
The majority of people we surveyed found that working from home was a positive experience – however, we also heard from people who found it difficult to do their job this way. For some people, the ability to separate work and home by working in another location is essential. Employees may find working at home too distracting, lack the space to work comfortably or simply feel too isolated to thrive working on their own at home.
- Make a plan
Most businesses I’ve spoken to managed to hit the ground running as they switched to working remotely almost overnight: an impressive feat involving, in one case, the purchase of 300 laptops for their suddenly home-working staff! However, rolling out flexible working long-term requires strategic planning [LINK] to make it work for both businesses and employees: training managers, preparing staff, and putting systems in place to ensure productivity, organisation and employee wellbeing stay on track.
- Adapt or die
I’ve heard from a lot of people that one of the benefits of Zoom meetings is that they are shorter: when we meet online, we cut out a lot of the ‘filler’ that often takes up in-person meetings. This highlights my final point: it’s important that we don’t try to replicate exactly the way we worked before working online became an option. Your previous weekly staff meetings may have lasted two hours, but it’s likely people will lose interest or fall victim to ‘Zoom fatigue’ well before the two hours is up: shorter, well-planned meetings take up less time but can just as easily cover the important points. Flexible working means a move away from presenteeism: it’s less about showing up from 9-5, and more about focusing on outcomes and getting the work done in the most efficient way possible – even if that means a move away from conventional working hours or practices.
If you’re planning a move to flexible working and would like some support, get in touch. I can offer one-to-one coaching for managers, help with strategic planning, or offer tailored staff training designed around your business’ individual needs. I’ve also got a number of free resources available on my Resources page.