What will the new workplace look like?
Has our traditional workplace changed forever? Now that we have had a taste of working from home, zoom meetings (instead of face to face client meetings) and reducing travel time and parking costs, how are we all going to go returning back to work. In person.
Post Covid – there are 3 big questions that we are receiving.
- How do we get team members to come back to work?
- What about continued working from home arrangements? What should this look like?
- This period of time has clearly identified team members who are a great fit and those who are not. What do we do?
Disclaimer: The below does not dictate any legal advice and is generic in nature.
1. How do we get team members back to work?
Well, the simple question to this is the work/communication that you did when COVID-19 first started will probably answer this question. For example, if you set up regular and consistent channels of communication and kept employees updated of what is going on, then this issue is likely to be easier.
Notwithstanding that however, there has just been a massive change (ok one more time….an ‘unprecedented’ time) that most team members have never previously experienced. This is going to vary state to state and country to country so firstly, we all need to realise that it will take time to get people ‘back on board’ in the same way.
Secondly, we need to realise that your business may now have significantly changed and so it may never go back to ‘how it was’ before COVID-19 and new normal patterns, habits and expectations of success may have changed.
For example, if your busy went gangbuster busy over COVID-19 you don’t necessarily want people to ‘revert back’ to old habits and routines. You want to keep up the new momentum.
If your busy was quiet or needed to close down for a period, you need to now re-excite your team on what the next 12 months could look like and get their attention (as covered in last week’s blogs).
Either way, getting them back to work will be based on having a clear vision for the future, clear communication of focus points and sharing any strategies you have about your way forward. Tip – focus on identifying 1-3 clear focus areas for the company and possibly for each role.
2. What about continued working from home? What should this look like?
This is perhaps the biggest question we are receiving at the moment. Team members have now had a taste for it and if your business did not previously allow working from home or ‘flexible work hours’, you can guarantee that this will come up as the most significant request for current and new potential team members so it will be important for your business to have a position on it
So, what do we predict based around what we are seeing?
I suspect the traditional 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday will be out the door.
There are a whole myriad of questions coming out of working from home that we are covering with our clients but below are 3 key trends we are seeing in relation to work patterns:-
- The 4.5 day week – Allowing some time off during the traditional work week ie Monday morning off so team members don’t need to start work on 1 day of the week until 12pm but extend the hours of work out for the rest of the week. This allows times to book in bank appointments, medical appointments and so on and hopefully then reduces sick leave days to do these things.
- Having set core business hours less than the 38 hour week – This might look like an instruction similar to “all team members need to be in the office between 10.00am-3.00pm but can have flexible start or finish times”. We find that this provides team members the opportunity to do school drop off and/or pick-ups and/or plan time for things like going to the gym or other exercise routines in the morning.
- Providing an allocated number of days / month that team member can work from home – As we all know, ‘life happens’ and sometimes, working from home maybe easier than attending the office on some days or for some tasks. An example may be providing 2-4 days a month for example where people can plan ahead for any work that might be better done in a closed off environment.
The interesting thing will be watching the Fair Work possible amendments around this as our current industrial platforms are not necessarily updated to deal with flexible workplaces (ie with set minimum hours, breaks, stop and starting etc).
3. This period of time has clearly identified team members who are a great fit and those who are not. What do we do?
Having clear standards defined as well as your values and behaviours (ie what is a good fit and what is a bad fit) is critical in helping you manage this.
Finding ways of continually referencing them and providing examples will help keep them live within your organization but following them up and having discussions with team members when values are not being lived is just as important. This is definitely harder and more uncomfortable sometimes but critical in setting the culture of your organization.
Remember – the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.