It might be hard to believe sometimes, but we’re a year into this new era of lockdown life and remote working. It has been a transformative time for us all, and the world of work might never be the same again. Working from home, not having a commute and how this all has affected the relationship between employer and employee is going to be the topic of discussion for years to come now.
The major impact on the employees themselves has been the change in atmosphere from a busy office space to working from within their home. Not everyone is lucky enough to have a desk at home to work from either, as some who may not have pre-planned for the pandemic have had to contend with working from a sofa or from a spare room. Perhaps surprisingly, this added flexibility and new ethos has some people hooked. Remote workers are 13% more likely to stay in their current role, with more than half saying that they would consider leaving their role if the ability to remote work was taken away.
The secret to this improved workforce is in the flexibility that is offered alongside working from home. Employees are now able to work around their family and home responsibilities, something that has been responsible for a significant increase in overall productivity and better wellbeing. When we begin to return to some sense of normality some businesses like HSBC have already decided that flexible and remote working will stay put, this has been a very popular decision with their employees. Professionals work better when they are able to dedicate themselves fully to their work. Giving them the time they need for their personal lives allows them to bring their full attention and productivity to their work. It is therefore unsurprising that members of the Scottish and UK governments are calling for more businesses to make flexible working the norm.
One of the major downsides of working from home is the lack of separation between the personal space and the workspace. In the “old world”, professionals had the time of the commute to separate their work from their home. This was an important mental part of preparing the mind for the workplace and “switching off” from the personal and “switching on” the professional. Now that this separation no longer happens it has become difficult for many to get into that professional state of mind when starting work from home. The solutions for this issue have been varied, as everyone has their own way of getting into the right state of mind for work. Some have begun their day with a walk or some exercise, or even with some meditation or yoga. The ultimate goal is to replicate the separation between work and home, making sure none of the stress from either world crosses over to the other.
For businesses who want to support their workers through this difficult time, the most successful approach is a human one. Statistics and numbers can be of great use, but when dealing with the human aspect of the professional world you have to take a human approach. Businesses that are listening to their workers’ needs are getting the best out of the situation. If your team needs flexibility to work around family and childcare, then supporting them through that will ensure maximum productivity. The work-life balance is a delicate one, and only listening to your employees will help you and them find the right balance.