In all of my years in HR (over 35) I have never seen such changes in the way we work in such a short period of time. The professionals and leaders who once were against telecommuting, working from home, alternative work schedules suddenly see the value. This alone is a HUGE change. Many have felt that their traditional work ethic of feeling guilty unless they were present at a work office/site has suddenly vanished as they see how productive people can be no matter where they are. I have had the benefit of this experience for the last 12 years, so it isn't new to me to understand how effective and productive one can be in a home office. I LOVE it!. No commuting time when not attending in person meetings, hence more work time. More quality home time. More flexibility in what I can do in a day. This is what others are quickly experiencing. Why shouldn't we be more at ease with our work day? Why should we feel guilty if we are being productive? Why don't we trust people working outside of the office? Much of this is more a personal issue than a real problem.
What we are finding is that many actually are working more. We can sense a level of "peace" from those who were once rather uptight. We realize that employees feel trusted when we give them flexibility and when they have a say in how to do their work. I am a big supporter of this approach.
Employees are fitting in self care. We realize that this is so important to optimize productivity and keeping healthy while doing so. Work is something we do, not somewhere we go...keep that in mind.
The work/life balance is otherwise extraordinarily difficult without recognizing the value of flexibility. COVID has forced us to understand that we need to address this issue and now!
The key for leaders is to have well written, clear policies and procedures on how you will handle alternative work arrangements. There are many details that you need to consider, but that is no reason not to go this route. Consider also that some people do not work well at home, they should have a say in where they feel they will be most productive whenever possible.
Meetings and regular communications are critical, even more so when working remote or alternative work schedules. But, they are easier than ever as well through video conferencing. Technology is our best friend as leaders.
In a society of unrest politically and otherwise, perhaps less people spending too much time together resulting in stress is not a good idea now anyway. The stresses of the pandemic alone are bad enough and adding so much to our already, complicated lives that somehow we need to find ways to balance it all. Between sickness, job loss or fear of it, schools that are not in session or have schedules that are raising havoc on the work situation, this all heightens stress. It is up to our leaders in the workplace to help us get through our juggling act. At one time, this was not the case and employers didn't entertain the obligation. Now we see it is absolutely essential that we become part of the solution to allow people the ability to work and handle the issues in every day life.
Corporate America to a large degree was seemingly unwilling to see the value of flexible work styles and places. But now, we are recognizing the value of it all.
Then we have those who simply cannot work from anywhere but the work location. They often are hit the hardest and have very few options related to flexibility. That is the group we need to pay particular attention to and be as creative as possible to support them in any way we can. Healthcare providers, law enforcement, service jobs are examples of those who cannot have such flexibility in terms of work location. At least let's review their pay to be sure they are being paid a livable wage and provide benefits accordingly.
Even for those working from home, it's not all good. Some feel very isolated and lonely. Some are not in a good home environment in general. Be sure you focus on opportunities for ALL employees despite their work arrangement and location. Being conscious of how all are doing and keying into their needs is key. We need to think on our feet as leaders and be ready to respond to our employees.
I tend to be a glass half full person. I seek the silver lining in all that happens, especially the most traumatic or stressful life events. This allows me to see clearer and to make the most of my life and circumstances. I try to help leaders do the same. Be open, be flexible, be compassionate, be responsible, be creative and ensure accountability while doing all of it at the same time.
Hopefully you are finding that changes being required with our "new normal" are more good than bad. If you can't find the benefits, please reach out. I am working through so many work environment scenarios and policies related that it becomes clearer and easier to manage.
Time to revisit your policies related. Create some that do not exist for alternative work situations. Be open and highly communicative with your staff. Feel free to reach out to review best practices with me!
Hoping to find all of your in good spirits, in a peaceful place and ready for the challenges in our workplace yet to be.
Warm regards, Jbm