This year we have all found ourselves working a little differently. Organisations and employees have had to adapt to huge amounts of change with little notice. The increase in working from home was gathering pace prior to the pandemic but the acceleration in which this has happened is unprecedented.
Alongside this, employees have found themselves in the position of possibly having to home-school their children, and organisations have had to become increasingly flexible.
What is clear however, as we move past a year from the start of the pandemic, is that working patterns have perhaps changed forever… It has been reported that ‘less than a third (32%) of workers are highly likely to return when their office reopens.’ And even then, workers may not be in the office every day. Ultimately, it appears that a hybrid/blended working model will become the norm, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.
A recent global study from the ADP Research Institute on engagement and resilience in the workplace has found “Virtual workers are both more engaged and more resilient than those who are physically in an office or shared workspace.” It found the most engaged workers of all were those that worked from home four days a week, and in an office the other day of the week, and that during the pandemic (mid 2020) there was an increase in employee engagement and resilience.
“Feeling like part of a team is a state of mind, not a state of place. Engagement and resilience are about who you work with, not where you’re working.” (source: Marcus Buckingham)
Businesses across the globe are handling the changes in different ways. Companies, such as Dropbox, are permitting their employees to work from home permanently, Facebook are letting 50% of their workforce work from home permanently and Microsoft plan to let their workers spend 50% of their working week, working from home.
In contrast, the boss of Goldman Sachs has declared that it won’t be the case for those at Goldman Sachs; “it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible.”
What it really comes down to is trust. Do you trust your employees to do their job away from the office? And are your employees able to build trust with one another if they are working virtually?
The real winners of this pandemic have been those companies with high levels of trust. High levels of trust increase the ability to cope with change and stress. And let us be honest, we have all dealt with bundles of that in the last year! By being able to change working habits ‘on the fly’ and adapt effectively when things do not go to plan is a necessary skill in navigating this new world in which we find ourselves.
What is more, companies with high levels of trust outperform those that do not. The reasons why are discussed in more detail in our recent blog post.
The losers are those that felt they had to consistently measure time spent online, number of keystrokes, and the use of cameras to ‘monitor’ their employees. (Do NOT do this!). Luckily, most stories are positive, and it appears there has been a fundamental shift in how organisations trust their employees. Who knew you could trust your employees to get the job done from home?!
Fundamentally, everyone “want(s) to do (their) very best, and being trusted to do it can change everything.”
So how do you support new way of working?
1. Understand that not everyone works best the same way.
Where do your employees want to work? Where do they perform best? Ultimately some employees might love to work remotely, however others might thrive on being in the office. As you plan your new future ask for input from your team as to what will work best for them.
2. With teams working remotely, prioritise open communication channels.
If your teams are spending most of their time remotely, ensure that there are communication channels available to them that are not necessarily just for ‘work chat’. How will these communication channels be structured? By removing employees from the office, you are missing out on the chance
encounters at the printer or coffee machine for example, where relationships are often formed and built upon. Ensure you prioritise and understand that relationship building and getting to know one another is essential for building trust and team alignment.
Additionally, on days when your team may be working from the office, prioritise time spent together and encourage personal relationships and friendships to flourish.
3. Use the MyPeople (SaaS) analytics platform to monitor how people are coping, to build and improve levels of trust, and to optimise individual, team and organisational performance.
Our Analytics platform provide interactive visualisations and business intelligence to support workforce decisions, so organisations can define, align, and transform their people strategies.
Using a developed and proven methodology applied in elite sport, our software has evolved from the marginal gains approach in GB Cycling; the idea that small incremental improvements in teams add up to a significant change in organisational performance.
Designed to address diverse workplace challenges, we deliver the critical insight needed for businesses to sustainably thrive and highlight where teams can grow.
By helping you to understand your people, you are at the best advantage to support those working for you.