Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight.
Oil company BP recently informed their 25,000 office-based staff that they will be able to work from home for two days a week, a shift that will offer a more “flexible, engaging and dynamic” way of working. The company is just one of many who are thinking in the long-term as to how they can adapt workplace structures in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Some of the UK’s largest employers, including Nationwide Building Society and Lloyd’s of London have also started reviewing their flexible working policies in a change brought about by Covid-19. As lockdown begins to ease, the benefits of working from home has meant that returning to the traditional 9-5 office is no longer appealing, nor is it feasible.
Companies will be keen to try and save money by using less office space, either by downsizing their current buildings or using third-party facilities closer to staff residences. By cutting down the hours their staff spend on commuting, businesses can also lower their carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly.
The most important factor is the wellbeing of employees. If you have not done so already, now is the time to speak with employees to address any concerns they may have. How many are eager to return to the office? Is it essential for them to come back or can they continue working from home? What safety measures have you, as an employer, taken to ensure staff are able to socially distance if/when they do come back?
All these questions will need to be addressed for businesses to work out a long-term plan for how they will operate in the upcoming months. The most popular approach, as we have seen above, is the hybrid model, which combines working from home and working in an office environment in a flexible system. The model is flexible, granting employees more autonomy to adapt their work structures in a way that suits them, which is beneficial at a time where unprecedented changes feel like a constant.
The hybrid model also means that physical presence will only be required for in-office meetings, training days, etc. but not necessarily for other work-related tasks. Days spent working from home, for instance will mean that individuals will have more time to focus on tasks that requires their full concentration, while days in-office can be devoted to team-related discussion and collaboration.
It is not to say that a hybrid model will benefit everyone. There is still a place for offices in the future, particularly for the health and wellbeing of staff who have struggled with working from home. People who prefer fixed routines for example, may not like constantly switching between work settings and would rather one set workplace so they can re-establish the line between their work and personal life - a line that has no doubt become blurred as a result of home working.
Flexibility is going to be key for businesses going forward. Everyone has had to adapt to new ways of doing things, the silver lining is that we have an opportunity to use them to our advantage.
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