The Flexible Working Future

One of the few positives to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic is how businesses rapidly adapted so that staff could work from home.

Out of sheer necessity, industries which would have never considered it possible in the past, overcame technological, cultural, and psychological barriers to implement remote working and continued to operate whilst keeping their staff safe.

Whilst there were obvious concerns that working from home would result in a drop in productivity, for most businesses that fear never materialised. In fact, in a survey of senior decision-makers from UK organisations, which was carried out for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 71% believed that homeworking during the pandemic had not had any detrimental impact on their organisation’s productivity.[1]

For employees, the opportunity to work from home has also been largely well received. Whilst there are clearly some negatives, including an impact on mental wellbeing for some people, the time and money people are saving by not commuting, and the greater flexibility and work/life balance that working from home provides, are benefits many will not want to give up.

The enforced “working from home trial” therefore appears to have been largely successful. However, it does pose some serious questions for businesses whose employees have been required to work from home during the last 14 months. As social distancing restrictions ease, and offices reopen, should businesses make flexible working an option for their staff going forward and, if so, how can they make it work for everyone?

As is frequently the case, there is no simple answer. In fact, with every business being different, and their employees also likely to have differing views and circumstances, finding a solution that suits everyone can be a considerable challenge. However, there is no denying that the pandemic has caused a significant shift in the acceptance and appreciation of flexible working amongst businesses and employees alike. It has highlighted that many businesses can still perform without requiring staff to be sat in expensive offices every day. It has also shown many staff that daily commuting should no longer be necessary. The possibility of flexible working in the future is, therefore, something that many businesses can no longer ignore.

With social distancing measures expected to be fully removed in the next couple of months, businesses need to be looking now at where and when their employees will work in the future. It is likely to involve some difficult discussions and the decision a business makes is unlikely to suit everyone. Fortunately, K Bater Consultancy is here to advise, guide and support small and medium sized businesses in finding a way to make flexible working work.

[1] https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/flexible-working-lessons-from-pandemic-report_tcm18-92644.pdf