The global pandemic has transformed the way many businesses operate. There have been companies that have thrived, those that have struggled, and unfortunately many that have folded. We still find ourselves in a period where vaccination rates and COVID cases dominate the headlines, but there will come a point where the threat to our health is lessened, and businesses will need to begin making tough decisions about how to operate in a post-pandemic world.
While there will still be sectors and organisations that opt for old ways of working, with swathes of employees commuting back into offices five days a week, there will still be many that plan to adopt changes from the last 18 months, embedding them into their company culture. This is something that we at Edays fully support, and we are conscious that our staff will expect more from us in terms of working benefits, and the support we provide.
Making plans since the pandemic began has been hard. We have moved from lockdown to lockdown, and with winter approaching are ready for more change that may well come if the country sees COVID cases spike once again. However, despite the difficulties in planning for the rest of the year ahead, and the new year for that matter, I see it as part of my responsibility as CEO to offer up tangible plans and actions, that not only offer our employees peace of mind, but can be replicated by other organisations to keep their own workforces happy and productive.
The Hybrid Offering
No doubt your business will consist of individuals who are keen for a return to what was considered normal back in 2019. And then there will be those who wish to work remotely forever. As the saying goes, you can’t please everyone, but offering a hybrid working solution gets you pretty close to this. Understanding why this is important and individual employees’ reasons for favouring one or the other is key.
Employees have worked successfully from home for the past 18 months. Previously very few full-time office workers benefited from even an afternoon working from home, let alone a full week remote working. This wasn’t the norm, and the UK’s working culture was one that argued businesses thrived with people in the same room. There are of course benefits to having conversations with colleagues in the office kitchen or sitting down for a cup of tea with your manager to discuss a personal matter, but ultimately technology has afforded us the ability to continue this, albeit without so much social interaction.
The reasons your employees may choose to work from home or aim to come into the office every day will vary. Whether this is preference, an attempt to balance their social and working lives, not enough room at home, mental health, time spent with family or even childcare, the list goes on. And quite rightly. Why insist an employee come to the office when they are happier at home? If teams work efficiently and have produced quality work remotely, is there a need?
A hybrid offering will show to employees you have listened, and that their loyalty during a difficult year has been rewarded with trust.
Focus on Wellbeing
The world seems to have changed, and we are now more understanding and forgiving than perhaps we were in 2019. Companies in particular have come to believe that they do have a responsibility for the health and wellbeing of their staff, and that internal policies, initiatives, and culture play a huge role in encouraging and supporting employees.
Owning responsibility is key here. Employers play a part in this, but so do employees. The job of a leader is to ensure employees feel empowered to look after themselves. But the question is how to best instil this feeling into the workforce? My answer is to take time out for yourself.
Leaders of organisations are often very busy and operate in roles that are incredibly stressful. Taking time out not only helps from a personal standpoint but encourages staff to do the same. “If my boss is taking time out on Wednesday to focus on wellbeing, I can too”. It is so important to make wellbeing a priority for the business. It will ultimately lead to a workforce that is committed, and working productively, because rather than suffer from burnout, individuals will take the time they need when they need to, taking responsibility for their own health.
The Role of Tech
Technology enabled us to react to the pandemic, and it will continue to play its part post-pandemic. Brands with some really smart ideas are solving the smallest of inconveniences (and some of the biggest) we encounter on a day-to-day, and it’s something we should all feel very thankful for.
Adapting to the post-pandemic world will come hand in hand with adopting technology to support your business and needs. Encouraging hybrid working and wellbeing initiatives needs support and the right infrastructure. HRs still need to be able to do their jobs, but rather than allow them to continue to use out-dated paper-based processes, absence management software is transforming the way they are able to support the business.
Managing teams working in the office, or out of the office, allowing them to book holiday, register sick leave, all with the touch of a button, saves HR teams a huge amount of time. Rather than being bogged down with admin, they can then spend their time impacting the organisation positively, organising wellbeing initiatives, hiring key members of staff remotely (or in the office), and doing the job they were brought on to do.
Highlighting that absence matters will be recognised by employees. At a time where work-life balance and health & wellness have become so important, an organisation that is able to offer flexible absence policies, that help promote the company culture will keep your employees loyal and entice talent to join.