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The pandemic brought big changes to how we work, the biggest of which was the rise in remote working. During the first lockdown companies transitioned from a mostly office-centric culture to embrace more flexible ways of working. In May 2020 for example, more than 60% of UK employees were working from home. This in turn helped to temper burnout, mental health issues and work life balance.

Not all change is good

With all restrictions now removed, organisations are keen to work out the best post-pandemic working models going forwards to ensure productivity and profitability. However, a recent survey of HR professionals revealed that two thirds of firms expect to scale back remote working, flexible working and possibly some mental health initiatives now that our pandemic status has come to an end.

It’s clearly a difficult balancing act. But employers need to understand that employees have now come to expect flexible working arrangements and other support that they have received in recent years. Changing policies, or removing things completely, could have detrimental effects on staff retention and recruitment, in what is already a highly competitive labour market. And of course, there is the wellbeing debate to consider, as well as reduced property/office costs and the positive environment impacts that have come out of remote working.

Time to ask questions

At AcitfHR, we believe that organisations should be looking to adopt new ways of working that can result in a more inclusive, diverse and engaged workforce. It may be necessary to ask difficult, complex questions about how well the team or organisation works overall when staff are dispersed geographically.

To help do this, you need to be able to answer the following:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • Is it working?
  • Can we improve things?
  • What needs to change?
  • How will we do this
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • When will it happen?

Stay in tune with employee needs

Only then, will employers be able to have flexible corporate culture which can adapt to a changing business landscape, whilst continuing to stay in tune with employee needs. This may mean that policies need to be reimagined, business goals altered, new working styles implemented, communication strategies optimised and general working practices tweaked.

It’s also worth pointing out that flexible working doesn’t just relate to where the work is carried out. Business owners also need to look at when the work takes place and how long it takes. This may mean managers being retrained and supported so they have the right work planning and people skills they need. In addition, you will need to be open and receptive to measuring progress, listing to feedback, tracking engagement, learning, sharing and communicating your findings and then acting on them in a positive way to demonstrate leadership, confidence and allay any fears.

How can we help?

If you need any help, support and advice please contact caroline.robertson@actifhr.co.uk for non-obligatory advice.