The outbreak of coronavirus in 2020 led to strict lockdown measures, and consequently, many people were forced to work from home. This has led to more flexibility in the way employees do their work in terms of working days and hours. Many times, this is because they have to balance the work with other things such as childcare.
Before COVID-19, there were not many people that worked from home. The number was negligible when compared to those working in an office. However, while the number has been rising in the last few years, it took a massive leap in the last year because of the pandemic situation. What we know as flexibility now is different from what it used to be before COVID-19. The approach is different now because many workers now have to deal with homeschooling, childcare, providing support for vulnerable relatives, etc.
This doesn’t reflect what work flexibility is or should be. So organizations must make sure that they don’t make their decisions about flexible working based on the current situation. However, this situation is also an opportunity to review what flexible working is, its importance, benefits, and how it should go, but the current situation has to be considered.
What’s flexible working?
This is a term used to refer to a working arrangement in which the workers have some degree of flexibility on the work hours, location, and time of work. There are different types of flexible working such as part-time work or reduced hours, homeworking, flexi-time, job shares, annualized or compressed hours, self-rostering or staggered times for starting and finishing, career breaks.
It’s possible to have formal flexible working (in which it is part of the employment contract) or informal flexible working based on the agreement between the manager and the employee.
Many organizations have to review their flexible working model and the benefits that both the employee and the organization get from this model. According to the best essay writers at the college paper writing service, this is strong evidence to show that flexible working is beneficial for both parties. Some of its benefits include reducing the gender pay gap, attracting and retaining the best talents, supporting sustainable initiatives, better wellbeing, and increased productivity.
Short-term need for flexible working
Remote working has increased massively since the pandemic started so, flexible working has been put in place by many organizations. However, as lockdowns start to ease and places start to open up, the need for even more flexible working continues to rise as well because of the situation of things. For instance, some workers may be living with health conditions that make them vulnerable. Others may find it difficult to balance childcare with work. Also, some may have the responsibility of care to other vulnerable relatives. For these situations, flexible working remains essential, and sticking to normal processes and policies may be fatal.
With lockdown restrictions easing, and employers returning to their office works, many organizations will find that there’s a strong mix of both physical and flexible working. It’s critical, in times like this, for managers and organizations to ensure consistency and fairness in the way they treat employees whether or not they are working flexibly. They must ensure that engagement and communication are ongoing. Some of the things that must be considered to manage employees effectively for this period include the following:
- Effective communication: this will ensure that all the employees get messages and updates that are important to them and the organization, whether they’re working from home or are back in the office.
- Manager support: managers need to get more support, guidance, and training so that they’re able to handle remote teams (and work remotely, too), especially if they lack the experience.
- Regular check-in meetings: it’s important to hold one on one meetings (face to face or virtually) to monitor the health and wellbeing of the employees and also make sure that the workers don’t feel isolated while they work from home.
- Workload distribution must be fair, and it must be reviewed regularly with their objectives.
- Team meetings: team meetings are important and must be held regularly to build relationships and maintain the connection between team members working from home or the office.
This short-term need for flexible working is also important because it helps the return of normalcy to the workplace. There’s still the risk of COVID-19, and it will remain for a few months. So, the use of public transport will be limited. Also, social distancing still needs to be maintained at the workplace, and for this to be effective, the workplace can’t open at full capacity. So flexible working would ensure that there’s a safe return to normalcy following this period.
There are different types of flexible working, and many employees have settled for the one that suited them the most, mainly homeworking, in the last few months. However, as we move gradually into the post-covid world, flexible working will be a major part of company culture, and the current trend in flexible working shows this.