For the world of work, 2020 will be the year that changed everything. Here’s how to hold onto the benefits for the sake of workers and the organizations.
Adapting suddenly to a pandemic forced businesses to adapt almost overnight and implement changes that have been slowly coming in increments for years. But now is also an opportunity to reflect on what changes are working, and how to lock gains in for the long term. Here are ways that organizations can re-shape a future closer to what we know workers have wanted all along, with a more flexible, more virtual and more trusting environment that will benefit everyone.
Ask why returning is necessary
Tasks that didn’t seem possible remotely have transformed overnight – closing the books, payroll, customer service and even information security. Now is a good time to ask if and why even returning to a workplace is necessary. Organizations can help managers understand individuals’ needs and avoid assumptions to create the best environment, whether that’s in an office or at home.
Prepare for the reality of changing skills
The skills employers need in the future will be different from the past. Because of the ongoing changes, organizations should encourage all their workforce to reskill and engage in continuous learning, not just those who would have upskilled anyway. Encourage remote learning and support workers to reclaim their commute with learning aligned to skills your business needs.
Expanding flexibility and balance
Offering employees the opportunity to work remote isn’t the only way to enable people to work flexibly and balance work and home. For roles that need to be done in the workplace offer staggered start and finish times, more flexible scheduling, and understand the priorities people have to balance in order to get their work done.
Emphasis on physical and emotional wellbeing
Feelings of isolation, stress, fear, and anxiety will be a COVID-19 legacy, and so too will be our reflections on the value of health, wellbeing, family and community. Prioritize emotional wellbeing with the same importance as physical and organizational measures like temperature taking and social distancing, to ensure people are confident, healthy and productive.
Finally, companies need to build trust, listen to people and respond to their needs and help workers prioritize and recharge. The initial adrenalin of workers needs to shift to resilience for the long term and employers must lead this charge. In this environment, it’s key to have strong remote leadership, transparent frequent communication, and a culture fit for work and home workplace and accessible wellbeing support.