At long last, we might be seeing the end of COVID restrictions and return to a more 'normal' way of working. Most of us will be delighted to get back to the office and work with our teams face-to-face. However, many people have found they can still produce quality output even outside of the regular office space and time. And they're going to be hesitant about letting this go.
As employers, there's benefit in adapting to keep good employees satisfied so business can thrive. And even though the ‘normal place of work’ component is once again relevant in employment agreements, workers are all able to request a flexible arrangement is considered. Here are some tips to think about if you have staff who’d like to keep working from home.
Set clear expectations
If you continue to make flexible work options available, ensure that both you and your employees know the expectations. You can set ground rules for your employees, such as being available for regular team meetings or project updates and providing required outputs when needed.
At a more general level, consider what you can do to nurture a culture where flexibility is genuinely supported. According to a study by the Ministry of Social Development, most employees with flexible arrangements feel the need to put in extra hours to show their commitment to their work as they do not report physically regularly. Some also still feel guilty about not following the regular hours. Of course, more hours do not necessarily equal more productivity, but you may need to actively reinforce this.
If you decide to allow flexible working arrangements, it's good practice to minimise communication outside office hours — for the benefit of both you and your team. The constant connectivity of the digital age can be misinterpreted as an expectation for 24/7 availability. Setting clear 'off-line' time will allow you and your employees to get the most of their flexibility without feeling guilty about it.
Establish open communication
Communication is key to any relationship, and that includes your relationship with your employees. Make sure to take the time to listen to your employees' concerns and aspirations, especially as we readjust to a post-lockdown working world. Some may need more time with their kids who are just slowly going back to school. Others may have discovered that they produce better results at night.
Being available to discuss each employee's needs will help them feel valued and also more open to communicating with you.
Embracing flexibility can help you attract better talent
In this new normal, leading businesses have an appreciation of the benefits of focusing on output instead of hours worked. This can help you get the most from your team and new hires. If you're looking to fill vacant positions or expand your team, offering flexible work arrangements may help attract more applicants. According to research, flexibility is a top priority for over 90% of millennials. For small businesses who may struggle to match the salary of competitors, offering flexibility can give you an edge.
Giving your employees flexibility can also go a long way in helping you retain good staff. People will recognise your trust when they're allowed to work how, when, and where they want. And the most self-motivated staff who thrive when empowered this way are just the ones you want to feel loyal and to help you reach your business goals.
Getting back to normal is going to demand we embrace change once again. We have an opportunity to ensure getting 'back to the office' is a step forward if we are open to flexibility's fit with our new freedoms. It can unlock productivity and an opportunity to keep your team motivated and your business flourishing.
Our Mentors are here to help you face these changes and mitigate your worries. Ready to get started on your mentoring journey? Connect with us now to find a match.