Flexible Working Will Rise After COVID-19 – At Last!
It’s a concerning fact that even though a large volume of businesses would consider themselves to be ‘modern’, many still shunned away from flexible or remote working before COVID-19 became the catalyst.
There are several justifications put forward when it comes to asking why remote or flexible working wasn’t on the agenda pre-COVID, but what the issue primarily comes down to it seems, is trust. Or rather a mistrust, along with a lack of knowledge around flexible working and organisational barriers employers face.
It looks like all this is going to change – you only have to spend a few minutes on LinkedIn to witness the number of job vacancy post that feature, ‘remote or flexible working available’.
We need to talk about trust...
In 2020, there is a plethora of scalable, cloud-based software and platforms suited to businesses of all sizes to ensure effective communication and collaboration. It is no secret that cloud-based soft-ware requires a far less financial investment than traditional infrastructure.
However, what is concerning is that according to HRNews, there is growing adoption of workforce surveillance tools, threatening autonomy – one of the driving forces behind remote and flexible working.
Many employers fear that there will be repercussions when it comes to levels of productivity. But there are no recent studies that show that time spent in the office is directly correlated to superior levels of output. Logically, it seems that there are far more distractions in an office environment than in a home environment.
The case for productivity...
Honestly, productivity should not be a deterrent from flexible or remote working. If the business has the right structure, communication processes in place and has focused on understanding the business benefits of flexible working, it should be viewed as an opportunity to be leveraged.
Countless studies reveal that flexible workers are more productive and organised. Figures from the CIPD show that on average, remote working generates 43% more revenue and improves performance by 20% – because people are more engaged than those who can’t work flexibly.
The data is in...
The ‘Flexible Working Business Case’ also goes on to report that flexible working leads to reduced staff turnover – by up to 87%, a figure that will directly impact the bottom line.
At the same time, absenteeism is also reduced, and mental-wellbeing is improved. In fact, in an article by HR News, 60% of employees believe that remote working is having a positive impact on their mental health and wellbeing.
Flexible working provides economic benefits...
Further to this, flexible working is better for the economy and unemployment rates. 2019 figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that women with children of a dependent age were more likely to enter into full-time work when flexible working is available.
Flexible working has also been cited as a solution to help close the gender pay gap, empowering mothers with young children to return to work sooner.
A new report from Working Families found that more than 9 out of 10 working parents are calling for flexible working to continue after the pandemic has passed. The survey found that just 65% of respondents had flexible working before COVID-19 hit, 84% are now working in this way.
Likely, employers have already found themselves admitting that their fears around introducing flexible working were unfounded.
They may find that they need to include flexible working for all into their policies quickly. Working families found that 21% of respondents are planning on having ‘informal’ conversations with their employer and 48% said they WILL be making changes to their working patterns after COVID-19.
Flexible working legislation will soon follow...
Legislative changes could also apply the pressure on employers as a bill was put forward by MP Helen Whately last year that would make flexible working the new normal. The change would see employers having to meet specific criteria to ‘opt-out’ from offering flexible working to employees. This bill will likely move back into the spotlight.
So, which businesses have already announced they will be extending flexible working arrangements?
Companies Adopting Flexible Working Post Covid-19
Amazon has given employees the option to work from home until at least October.
Currently, more than 60,000 Barclays employees are working from home, and CEO Jes Staley has hinted that they may not return to big city offices.
It looks like Facebook employees will be working from home for the rest of 2020. This is reported to be part of a long-term strategy that includes more remote working.
Like Facebook, Google employees will be working remotely until the end of 2020. Google has also given employees financial support to buy office furniture for their homes.
Mastercard is looking to consolidate their global offices and has told staff that they can decide for themselves when they want to return.
Microsoft workers have been told that home working is extended until October.
More than 4,000 Spotify employees will be working from home until 2021.
CEO Jack Dorsey has told staff that they can choose to work from home permanently if they wish.
The return to the office for WPP workers will be flexible and voluntarily.
It’s no secret that COVID-19 activated the shift towards more flexible and remote workforces, and employers should take this shift seriously.
However, to empower employees and provide them with the autonomy and work-life balance they desire – they must make sure they create a culture that gets it right.
Building collaborative teams, placing emphasis on employee recognition, investing in the right software and understanding that employees are measured on results – not time spent in the office.
For further information on launching your own flexible working model in your company culture, contact me about my flexible working services.
If you need guidance and direction when it comes to creating a culture that fits the new normal, I can help.