In the first of our “Sixty Second Read” series, our Flexible Working expert Neville Henderson looks at the changing demands and the future of work post COVID-19.
In the current unprecedented circumstances, many businesses have necessarily implemented short term changes in ways of working to allow for business continuity and meet demand. These may have been simply adjusting shift patterns to allow less interactions between employees including:
- Staggering start and finish times to prevent logjams whether at clocking devices or hygiene facilities
- Expanding work opening hours to allow for fewer people present on site at any time e.g. moving from single to double shift with reduced presence, thus allowing for better social distancing and access to hygiene facilities
- Adjusting shift rotations to ensure that teams always handover to the same group of people, reducing the size of groups interacting together
Others may have been more radical. Where possible organisations and people associated with them are now working in far more flexible ways, in terms both of location and time. The question for everyone is how many of these changes are going to become the norm….
What is the future of work?
Liz Truss, the Women and Equalities Minister has pointed out that once lockdown measures begin to be lifted there should be a move away from “presenteeism” towards “more flexible working”.
“I really do think that we need culture change towards flexible working. And I think that we shouldn’t miss the opportunity that we’ve seen now, of people being able to work more flexibly, and actually implement that in the workplace. I’m also interested in the idea of how we can change the culture of offices to move away from presenteeism to move towards more flexible working, and to integrate families more in the lives we’ll lead. I think people are more open about the role of family life in the workplace than they were before and I think that’s a positive change.”
In addition many industries economic activity has stalled around the world, little more than a decade after many believed the world had already seen a ‘once in a lifetime’ recession with the financial crisis in 2008. Alongside this there is also a newfound respect given to many of our key workers producing and delivering food and providing necessary care to the vulnerable, whilst on fragile contractual arrangements such as zero hours. The dilemma therefore is to provide a workforce which promotes productive working and:
- guarantees flexibility for the business in uncertain times
- is made up of your permanent core workforce
- controls excessive labour costs (seen when using from agency or overtime)
- doesn’t rely on external organisations who may treat their “employees” with different ethics to your own
- doesn’t require expensive and time-consuming hiring & firing to be repeated as known demands change
At the same time, it is important that we inspire confidence and stability within the employee, providing the employee with a stable guaranteed income, some certainty of hours and a productive work-life balance and flexibility to support health and wellbeing.
Crown Workforce Management Consultants have been helping businesses design and implement such flexible working schemes, using multiple methodologies and outcomes such as annualised hours for the past few decades. We help businesses to:
- analyse, understand and predict their demand profiles
- design and develop optimum resource profiles and shift patterns, enabling not only improved productivity but also work-life balance, motivation and reward
- implement solutions in partnership with your employees
- help you manage your future flexible working solutions using Crown Solutions – monitoring hours usage, absence and planning day to day flexibility requirements