Flexibility in the Post COVID Workplace

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, flexibility was a word I’d heard companies use to describe what they could offer a prospective candidate in order to attract them to a role; it meant being able to duck out to a doctor’s appointment or finishing early sometimes to pick up a child. Since COVID-19 first hit Australia earlier this year, flexibility in the workplace has taken on a whole new meaning.

Looking back to March, I recall being in Melbourne with my colleagues to attend Greg Savage’s final speaking tour. Greg is an icon in the recruitment industry and one of the best speakers I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. With an early start of 8am for his presentation, my colleagues and I were on the early train from Ballarat and arrived in Melbourne with the news that the Grand Prix had been officially cancelled. It certainly changed the mood of Melbourne that day as the realisation of the severity and the impact of what COVID meant for us locally. By the time I returned to the office on Monday, schools had closed and within an instant our team was moved to working remotely. I’m sure many of you also have a similar story of how quickly your business was transferred to working remotely almost overnight.

Flexibility took on a whole new meaning as work and home lives blended together and multiple priorities needed to be met. Hours were shifted to juggle on-line learning for children (in some cases), as well as ensuring the necessary IT support was in place to successfully work in a remote capacity. We entered a new phase of working life with no end in sight, business adapted, we had to change the way we worked and do it quickly.

In Victoria, as we begin to recover from the second wave, I wonder what flexibility will look like post the pandemic? What will we carry forward into the future and how will that change the way we work?

Here are some of my predictions based on what I’ve observed throughout this year:

  • Temporary employees can work remotely:

In my role as Recruitment Strategist, the majority of the roles I recruit for are of a Temporary/Contract nature. Prior to COVID, it was very rare for a temp/contractor to be engaged in a working from home capacity. This obstacle was quickly removed with many of Inspire HQ’s temporary employees retained to continue to perform their roles whilst working remotely. Managers reported no change to the quality of their output with even one Manager commenting on increased levels of output! Initially these employees were already established in their temporary roles and were well equipped to perform the duties as they moved to working from home with very little notice. Over the last 6+ months as businesses have learnt to adapt and operate in a new way, new staff have also been engaged to work remotely. With the introduction of video conferencing to many businesses, training and inductions were completed online as well as regular check in meetings/catch ups to ensure staff were on track. Working in this manner also allows us to “widen the net” so to speak in relation to sourcing staff, if a temp/contractor doesn’t have to work from the office we can consider a wider range of candidates for each role to ensure we are sourcing the best candidate for our client’s requirements.

  • Flexibility for working parents:

Remote working can continue to support caregivers who need flexibility in their roles. It has allowed parents to adjust hours throughout school closure periods and will continue to be crucial in attracting and retaining working parents. As a working parent myself, it has always been challenging to manage sick children with work commitments however throughout COVID it has proven that with flexibility I’ve been available to manage my work commitments and the needs of my children.

  • Flexibility to dress for the day:

2020 has certainly been the year of casual attire with the work uniform taking a back seat. As more employees return to the physical work environment, it’s time to think about what is appropriate attire for your workplace and culture. Rather than setting a hard and fast rule, consider giving employees flexibility to dress for the day. Set some boundaries around what is appropriate for what occasion, for example meetings with a client requires business attire, no face to face meetings for the day – casual attire may be more acceptable. Allow your employees the freedom to choose what works best for them within those parameters. By giving them the freedom and flexibility, each individual can choose what works best for them on any given day.

  • Returning to the office:

Now employers and employees have both had a taste of working remotely, returning to the office for 100% of total working hours is highly unlikely for many. Some employers have already introduced changes to working flexibly that will be carried into a post COVID world. This flexibility makes up an important component of the value proposition that the organisation can offer its employees. Whether it be a percentage of work being able to be performed in a remote capacity, set days to be in the office for face to face meetings or a rotating roster for staff to be working onsite. Each organisation will be looking to transform the flexibility on offer so it works for both employer and employee.

  • Work ready homes:

With many professionals adapting to working from home with ease, for some the bigger challenge was having a dedicated working from home space. The way we build and design our homes for the future will be impacted significantly due to COVID.  This combined with the steady increase in the number of people already moving to regional areas in recent years, take a read of “This is what coronavirus will do to our offices and homes” from BBC News to see what the future might look like.

What does flexibility mean to you? Will you return to a physical office post COVID or continue to work from home? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what has worked well for you throughout this period. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.



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.

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