Before COVID-19, many businesses were already providing more flexibility to their employees. There was also an increasing expectation by employees for more flexible working conditions. Of course, the amount of flexibility varies depending on the industry.
COVID-19 has forced businesses to adapt. For many office workers, this has meant remote working. For others, such as restaurants and cafes, it has meant being available for takeaway only.
But what happens when the restrictions ease and then end? Will employees who’ve been working from home want to return to an office environment? Will the working environment, regardless of your industry, ever be the same ever again?
It’s very important to have a plan in place for when COVID-19 restrictions ease. This will provide clarity for both yourself and your employees about workplace arrangements. What will your post-COVID-19 normal look like?
Things to consider
Here’s some things to consider for a workplace of the future:
1. Are you familiar with the National COVID-19 safe workplace principles? You can find them on the Safe Work Australia website by clicking here. Providing a healthy and safe working environment is imperative. This is regardless of whether your employees work on-site or from home. The Federal government’s Department of Health has published an information sheet for employers. You can read that by clicking here. Safe Work Australia has also got industry-specific information on COVID-19. You can check out that information here.
2. When planning a more flexible workplace for your employees, consider the following questions. Where are we now? Where do we want to be, and why? What’s the best way to get there? How can we start or keep moving? And don’t forget to review the process along the way by asking “how are we travelling?”
3. Put policies and technologies in place to support your strategy. Do your employees have the equipment and software they need? Do you have necessary cyber security measures in place?
4. Make sure that you, as an employer, and your managers are great at giving direction. Employees will need to know what’s expected of them. This includes reviewing and managing employee performance.
5. Communicate well with all your employees. Regular communication is imperative for all working arrangements – on-site or remote. Communication is also the best way to find out what support employees require from you.
It’s important to remember that there are many forms of flexible working. Consider what forms of flexible working will work best in your business and plan for them.
Continue being a great leader
In a recent blog, I wrote about the need to be a great leader to your employees during times of uncertainty. You will need to continue being a great leader as you come out of this crisis. Here’s some ways you can continue being a great leader post-COVID-19:
1. Have candour – that is, honesty without ambiguity. Us humans respond better to the known than the unknown. So, if you speak to your employees with candour, you’ll be more receptive to your employees – even if the news you give isn’t great.
2. Have empathy – as a leader, you often wear many hats. COVID-19 not only impacts you as a business owner, but it also impacts your employees. When entering our new normal, remember to have empathy for your employees.
3. Adapt and be flexible – COVID-19 has accelerated remote working for many businesses. This adaptability and flexibility will need to remain in place post-COVID-19 as everyone will be adjusting to a new normal.
4. Communication and active listening – this relates to having candour. Your employees don’t know what’s going on without you communicating with them. And you don’t know how to support them if you don’t practice active listening. Support goes two ways – so, you will need to support your employees if you expect support from them.
Preparing for the workforce of the future requires planning, learning and staying well-informed. And planning for the post-COVID-19 workplace is critical. But we need to be able to adapt to our current and future circumstances to allow for future growth and success.
Do you need some help strategizing for your future workplace environment? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.