How will you react when your people demand home working?

Having to transition some, if not all your staff to remote working may have been a major challenge for you, but in the main, you stepped up and made it happen. Your people are set up and working in unusual conditions. It wasn't what you wanted and may have declined request to work from home in the past. In March 2020 only 30% of people had that opportunity, 5% only at home. This was often a perk of management or a necessity of the remote sales person. But now? Early reports suggest that as many as 80% of businesses have shifted to remote working for some or all of their staff. The technical and functional arguments that forced everyone into the office everyday are becoming untenable. 

So what are you going to do post lockdown?

Now some people may be yearning for the days when they can return to the office, see their colleagues and get their social fix. For other, the thought of a daily commute, long days, juggling the busy lives of family members... well it fills them with dread. understanding what you need to run an effective organisation, whilst creating working environments where you people can do their best work in the future means looking at your organisational design and strategy now.

What I do know for sure is that flexibility in how people work is going to be demanded more in the future. The trend was already on the rise before the forced measures, but now people have tried it, and in most cases liked it, there will be an acceleration in requests once lockdown measures are eased. It might not happen immediately. Your people might just be grateful to get back to the social environment of the workplace or be grateful for job. But within a few months, weeks even, they will reflect on the freedom and autonomy they felt whilst working from home. They will recall how productive they are when trusted to work in their own environment. They will miss how creative and innovative they are without the constant stress, noise and schedules ruling their lives and they will want it to return. 

Flexibility to work from home and work in the office will be the norm.

So, what are you going to do when these requests happen?

Your arguments that prohibit working from home will be pretty weak now. So, you need to think about the type of organisation you want to build in the future.

a few stats...

83% of workers said

the ability to work remotely at least some of the time would act as the factor, if they were deciding between two similar job offers - and now people have experienced it, it is likely to increase. It also means you can find talent in all areas of the land.

32% of respondents said

having a choice of work location would matter more to them than being given a more prestigious role within their company. So if you want to retain talent, choice will be a vital element.

54% of office works said

they would leave their job, if they could have one with more flexibility according to Gallup research and 2/3 would start looking for a new job if their flexibility was taken away.

Most people don't want to work from home, isolated, all of the time, but research also found that 3 days a week is the optimal time for optimal work engagement and morale. The four day week experiments have also shown a dramatic increase in productivity and cost savings. So it makes good business sense - unless you are the controlling micro-manager who will need to develop their mindsets pretty quickly.

So what does this mean for the future of your work? Well you need to start preparing your strategy now. As you begin to ease people back into working back on site again, engage with them about what worked well, or not during the remote working experiment. What would they like to keep, or leave behind? Listening to your people will give you all of the insight you need.

If you don't have an organisational development specialist in your HR team, you might want to consult or contract with one. Rebuilding structures, processes and even employment contracts will need to be considered. Enhancing leadership skills will need to be a priority too as you shift to agile, flexible and even matrix style leadership. Perhaps you performance management processes need to be enhanced as you focus on output and behaviours and perhaps you need to revisit your values.

But what is clear is that if you continue to resist the change that is coming life for you and your teams will become toxic. You need to face the reality and create a strategy for dealing with it. A coach can really help get your thinking clear and remove the blocks that are mentally holding you back.

If you choose to go back to the old ways of working and resist change, you will be left behind and will find it hard to attract the best talent. By 2025 56% if your workforce will be under 40. They already want flexibility, choice and freedom and won't stand for old style thinking. You need to adapt and change your thinking to meet the needs of your followers or they will simply not choose to follow your vision, mission and goals.

Be proactive and plan the future of your work now. Get in touch if you want to explore your what is possible in your future team.

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