As the UK government has withdrawn its advice for employees to work from home, more organisations than ever will be instituting hybrid working models. However can we be sure the government will not recommend we should work from home where possible again this winter? The main topic for many businesses post pandemic lockdown is how to restructure their working patterns after widespread implementation of flexible remote home working arrangements but there is still great uncertainty about how and when to return to the office.
Flexible Working – Getting the balance right
All companies are faced with a variety of attitudes from staff from those who can’t wait to get into an office to those who never want to commute into one again. However many surveys show that most staff want to retain an element of working from home going forward.
The planned return to the office is occurring at the same time there are significant skill shortages in many professions. For many businesses it has been harder to train and on board new staff where the majority of people are working from home. As a consequence employers will focus on keeping their existing staff happy and therefore some form of hybrid arrangement will emerge in most companies.
The key challenges this will present for most businesses is creating organisational glue for staff working remotely and ensuring that staff working from home or in an office feel as valued as their counterparts. The burden of this transition will fall onto middle management who will need supporting to adapt and set clear measurable objectives for all staff other than hours worked.
In the past the reliance on managers supervising staff rather than having clearly defined outputs from a role has been the main barrier to many businesses offering flexible and remote working. However current circumstances may force businesses to address this issue and therefore In time we may see an increase in the use of performance pay schemes to reward staff going forward. More businesses will want to effectively pay people for what they do rather than the amount of time they spend working.
Geoff Blackwell-Frier (Managing Director) of Sphere Group said that “we need to build on people’s keenness of coming back together again to ensure that we have sufficient resources available in offices to effectively train developing staff, whilst at the same time taking account of the individual circumstances of people and supporting managers in setting clear objectives for all staff. For most office workers flexible remote working is here for good.”