While there’s been a gradual return to office-based working, working from home is still far more widespread than it was before the pandemic. And it’s what workers want; a recent BBC poll found that the majority of workers would prefer to work from home either full-time or at least some of the time.
This concurs with what we’ve seen so far; companies going back to the ‘old normal’ seem to be rare. Despite concern by leaders (as shown in the above poll) that long-term home working could affect company creativity and collaboration, businesses have to compete to attract and retain the best talent. Many are considering a ‘hybrid’ mixture of home and office working to stay attractive to new and current recruits.
If you’re considering accommodating a more ‘remote’ workforce, now is a good time to review your company culture and consider what adjustments you might have to make so your business can thrive in this new normal.
The main challenge during the pandemic, when so many were working from home, was keeping everyone connected. Creating virtual environments can be challenging. It’s hard to recreate those little spontaneous social interactions that office life brings. Do you have the structures in place to keep checking in, to foster communication? Can you have regular in-person meetings on-site?
Wellbeing and work balance
Are people set up for home working long term? Do they have the right kit at home? Do they have a comfortable chair? How is their mental health – are they isolated? Are they working their contracted hours? During lockdown, some companies created an environment to get people away from meetings and have time to think, such as leaving 12-2pm meeting-free.
Utilising different online platforms can help to set up a more creative mood for staff. Smaller groups can help to create ‘buddy’ relationships, particularly those who don’t speak out in large team meetings. Chat rooms on platforms like Slack, for example, can help create the informality of face-to-face meetings and help to foster ideas.
Keeping everyone in the loop
Regardless of whether people are working remotely or on-site, they still need the reassurance of a formal meeting, such as a weekly all-staff sales and delivery update. If it’s not possible to do them in person, make sure they are done online.
Leaders have had to trust their workforce to a certain degree, and for many, lockdown has helped them understand how home working affects productivity. Regardless of whether your staff are home working or not, your managers should be having regular conversations with them to ensure they have everything they need to deliver their goals that month – and that their targets are being met.
It’s fair to say that what we are going into now is unprecedented for many businesses. Currently, there are thousands of opinions but little proof of what works. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there is no ‘one size fits all’ – each business has its own needs. And even within the same business, some roles will need to be on-site more than others; a receptionist can’t function effectively from home, for example.
Business leaders are facing tough decisions, but as time goes on, it will become easier to make them; we’ll have more case studies looking at what works and we’ll all learn from each other. The workplace is adapting – it could be a great opportunity to get the best of both worlds if good decisions are made now.
If you’d like to chat with a People Puzzles HR Director about reviewing your business to create a culture that is inclusive and works effectively for a remote or hybrid workforce call us on 020 3633 6830 to find out more.
Alison Hilton, People Director