COVID-19: Spinning a crisis into an opportunity

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how many organisations view remote working, flexibility, productivity and work-life balance

COVID-19: Spinning a crisis into an opportunity

In the corporate world, there’s been a lot of debate around how to enable greater work life balance and the role flexible work practices can play in that.

Fast-forward to 2020 and COVID-19 has propelled a whole bunch of opportunities around a new way of working that is entirely better suited to human nature, according to Karen Gately, founder of Corporate Dojo.

Gatley told HRD that she knows organisations in the financial services sector who “in a million years would not have dreamt they could run their entire business remotely”, but since doing that they have “not skipped a beat”.

“Their performance is remaining strong: they are still growing and winning new customers,” added Gately.

“I recently spoke to all 20 members of a team and asked them about their view of working - what their preferences are.

“I have zero doubt that if that organisation does not deliver some flexible work options then they will literally have 100% of their team turnover.”

In fact, every single person on that team said the same thing: ‘The ideal for me would be some time in the office and some time work from home’.

READ MORE: 10 employee engagement strategies to create a dream team

In other words, a blend of ways of working where people still come together to collaborate, conduct training and workshop ideas. But then it’s also acceptable to create space in my own home in their home to focus and get work done.

The reality is that people sit in an office environment and spend chunks of their time pretending they are working but actually being completely unproductive.

“Engagement, productivity and performance actually comes from what people choose to do,” she said.

“Whether they are sitting in the office or sitting at home they are going to choose a job and do it well if they care about it.

“I think we can get huge advances in actual genuine productivity levels if we allow people to work in ways that are sustainable, healthy and allow them to have balance.”

Indeed, ten major Australian businesses have committed to making this flexibility a long-term reality for workers and have signed up to the Regional Australia Council 2031, which is encouraging people to live and work in regional areas.

“As HR professionals, we can educate businesses on how to communicate effectively from afar, how to engage with people, and how to monitor and assess performance when you are not looking at the person every day,” said Gately.

“If you can get those things right then there are huge upsides for the majority of people.

READ MORE: How company culture affects employee engagement

Some businesses Gately knows would have never gone down a flexible work path, but now they are saying ‘this actually works better for me’.

“This is a massive opportunity for HR but not if we come at it from a ‘it’s the right thing to do’, ‘it’s what millennials are demanding’ - let’s get past that.

“It’s not millennials, it’s human beings and human beings want balance, they want to prioritise more than their work. Dads want time with their babies, not just mums.

“So, we can point to how people can have both: great commercial results and a happy, engaged and balanced team.”

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