While the pandemic’s impacts are undeniably negative across the board, it may be possible to salvage a couple sips of lemonade from these deeply sour lemons. For those companies able to retain their staff and transition to remote working, there is a clear opportunity to transform the way we work to better align with people’s lives, including whatever new accommodations may be necessary as we emerge from this crisis. From remote and flexible work options, to allowing people to bring more of themselves to their roles, we essentially have the chance to build a new employee experience from scratch.
As of 2019, 80% of employees reported wanting to work from home at least some of the time. Similarly, 78% of workers believe that flexible schedules and telecommuting are the most effective nonmonetary incentives a company can provide to retain employees. This is an 11% increase from just the year prior. While the pandemic has obviously forced a number of compromises outside of normal operations, having seen that remote work is possible will make it difficult to convince employees to resume business as usual.
Instead, once we’ve weathered this crisis, People teams can engage employees around what the way forward might look like. Perhaps employees are allowed to work from home as they choose a couple of times per month, or once per week. Maybe managers can move more towards truly performance-based evaluations, rather than counting people in seats as a measure of productivity. Possibly, some companies will see the value in becoming completely remote, slashing their overhead and forging an entirely new path forward.
The potential here is not limited to just remote work, but can expand to include other benefits as well. Many of us have learned more about our colleagues’ lives than ever before as we see them in their home environments with all of the distractions and disruptions that accompany it. This presents an opportunity to build stronger bonds and tailor employee policies to foster more work-life integration. From increased flexibility and support for those with caregiving responsibilities, to perks for pet parents and more, these glimpses of employees’ lives can be used to inform People teams’ work. Throwing away this critical data would be adding insult to the deep injury this pandemic has caused to all of us.
Similarly, if your company has successfully cultivated more openness between team members as a result of these new working circumstances, this is your chance to capitalize on it to drive inclusion and belonging. As the lines blur even further between home and work, employers can move towards the ideal of enabling employees to bring more of themselves to meetings and projects, and thereby increase engagement. Consider this an opportunity to really tailor your company culture and employee experience to your employees. HR can emerge from this panic with a focus on employee needs and innovative responses, rather than trying to claw back all of the privileges allowed during the pandemic and destroying employee trust in the process.
The impacts of this crisis will doubtless be felt for a very long time, but we can take steps to ensure that at least the progress made on workplace flexibility is not lost along with so much else. Companies will need to assemble a new toolkit to ensure their success in the post-office workplace, from communication tools to engagement platforms. If we can be of any help at this challenging time, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re now offering free trials of our streamlined communication and employee empowerment software, and we’re happy to serve as a resource to those struggling to find the way forward. You can get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care, everyone.