As we all look forward with hope that the Covid-19 vaccine will work next year and that the current lockdown restrictions will have the impact we are looking for and bring the rate of infection down, many business owners will be wondering what the future of work will look like. We’ve already seen massive changes in the past year, with a huge percentage of the country being asked to work from home for an indefinite period when lockdown first came into place back in March, and then a half return to work that included rotas and remote working on a flexible pattern for many businesses. It was just not possible to return to work in the same way as before without the implementation of PPE and social distancing. Once the pandemic has been dealt with (whenever that is), many industries have demonstrated that they can function well with remote and flexible working, so will this continue?
For many workplaces the best approach to a post-Covid-19 work model will be to look after the interests of employees. They should always be front and centre. If your staff are demonstrating that they can continue to perform to a high and consistent level when working from home or with a greater flexibility in their working hours, you should always investigate the matter further to see if this can continue for the company. Of course, there are some industries where Covid-19 has been a disaster, such as the tourism industry, but where possible, flexible working should be explored as a viable option.
A hybrid model of working is where there is a combination of remote (at-home) working and in-house staff. After such a long period of time with enforced working from home, you might have a mix of employees where some are itching to get back into the office as they just haven’t got the space or inclination to work from home, whilst others might want to shift to homeworking permanently because it fits their temperament and skills. As a company owner you should look at a new office space that promotes this flexibility, with hot desking for certain departments where there is a constant shift of who is in the office working and who is working remotely from day to day. Maintain regular meetings and connection and interaction between management and employees as well as between employees to maintain a workplace culture, but it is achievable.
Learning how to return to work safely post Covid-19 is a challenge that every business owner will have to face. Having demonstrated that people can work from home without losing performance and output, there will be a call for many companies and many industries to continue a more flexible pattern of working that benefits the workers without costing the companies. There is a way that company owners can learn to survive and thrive in this brave new world. Working with professional training providers is a great start, putting the building blocks in place to maximise the efficiencies of employees whether they are all back in work in a new workplace layout, on flexible working patterns and working in shifts to minimise the amount of people in work at any given time, or working remotely from home.