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COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the way we live, socialise and work. In 2020 working from home (WFH) or remotely became the norm and not the exception.
Pre COVID, many businesses had been able to use the excuse that WFH didn’t work for their business; IT infrastructure didn’t allow it, paper-based systems and processes didn’t allow it, productivity was reduced, customer engagement was impacted. The list went on. Then COVID hit and forced many businesses to move to WFH arrangements – this was the only choice, other than to shut down completely.
The future of WFH is the topic of conversation as businesses transition their employees back into the workplace over the coming months.
It is also the burning question for the majority of people looking for work.
Can I work from home? What’s the split of time that I need to be in the office or how often can I work from home?
It’s the question my team are being asked day in and day out for most of the jobs we are currently recruiting for. It is now in people’s top priorities when you ask them what they are looking for in their next role; flexibility to work from home.
What do the business owners and managers think about WFH?
Many of the businesses are still trying to get their head around what this new hybrid, work from home – work in the office, model looks like and how it works. And some just simply want to go back to the good old days.
‘Can the employee WFH and if so, what does that split look like’ has become a standard question for myself and the team at Inspire HQ when taking a job brief from a client.
The reality is that if you are responding with a resounding no, you’ll need to be prepared to miss out on some great talent; the pool of potential candidates to recruit from will be reduced. People now expect flexibility.
If you are hiring and want to attract the best talent, it’s time to re-think your thoughts on WFH and how it can work for your business. Here’s a few things to consider:
- Can the role be done remotely / partly remotely?
Many people are answering our question to ‘can the employee WFH’ without even really stopping to consider the option. This leads me to believe that the reluctance to allow WFH is more about not being willing to change because this is how the role has always been done, than actually thinking through if and how it’s possible.
- What could a hybrid model look like?
Most people I’ve spoken to are not asking to WFH all of the time, but are seeking some flexibility. What could that flexibility look like? Could it be a 50/50 split; half the time could be worked remotely and the other half could be office based? Modelling some options can help you get your head around what tasks could be performed remotely and what tasks need to be performed from the office.
- How do you know the employee is doing their job?
We have always been accustomed to measuring work performance on hours worked. It’s a big shift to move to measuring performance based on outcomes, and putting in place the measures or KPI’s that are outcome based and not time based. Working through the outcomes you are seeking from the role will help manage WFH.
- Building trust
This is a big one for many employers. You need to get to know and trust your employee. Trust that they will do the work remotely. Trust that they are representing your company brand in the right way. Trust that they can perform the requirements of the role to the standard required. Accommodating WFH might look different in the early days of your new employees’ employment; maybe to start, the role is office based and after 3 months it transitions to one day working remotely, and then after 6 months it’s a 50/50 split. The WFH arrangement doesn’t have to look the same on day 1 as it does on day 200.
Considering WFH comes down to so much more than ‘can the tasks be physically performed from a remote location.’ It’s a concept all businesses and employees are grappling with and trying to find the happy medium for. Regardless, WFH is here to stay and if we want to attract the best talent to our businesses, a straight out no to WFH could be to your detriment.
Angela Connor is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource and career coaching companies. She understands the significance of having the right team of people in a business and is passionate about helping business to attract, recruit and engage the right people so those people can inject their talents into the business; creating an environment where they can do great work and love what they do. Find more useful information and advice at www.inspirehq.com.au or by following Angela on LinkedIn.
Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.