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COVID-19: Will Permanent Flexibility in the Workplace Emerge?

  • Blog
  • 24 March 2020

In January 2020 we looked at the global HR trends of 2020 and identified ‘permanent flexibility’ as one of the top emerging trends. Let’s recap:

 

Permanent Flexibility at Work

Flexibility for workers refers to flexibility in when and where an employee’s work is executed. Employees are becoming more interested in flexibility in their jobs. About 51% of all employees want their employer to offer more flexible work options. This is trending because increased flexibility makes the employees feel more comfortable and in control of their work. They have a greater sense of purpose and higher morale. Furthermore, permanent flexibility is getting more popular as employees don’t have to ask their manager for permission to change the work course time and time again, but have complete autonomy and responsibility.

 

Lockdown

Around 1/5 of the population are currently in some sort of lockdown, unable to leave their homes unless it is essential, in a bid to help slow down or stop the rapid spread of coronavirus across the globe. [Correct as of March 24th 2020]. With 20% of the population in lockdown, businesses have had no choice but to set up their workers working from home, where possible. This has involved a massive effort from IT, HR, Operations and many other functions within businesses. They have had to work together tirelessly and rapidly to ensure the infrastructure; support, training and policies are in place. This is to help make the transition from office worker to home worker as smooth as possible.

Some organisations have been reluctant in the past to support remote working, as they have worried about rate of productivity, inclusivity and loyalty. However, there have been multiple reports concluding that remote working more often than not leads to an increase in productively. Many workers enjoy the autonomy and increased responsibility from working remotely, resulting in a happier more productive workforce.

 

Experimental Working Options

The coronavirus outbreak has provided us with the largest work from home experiment of all time. It has pushed an emerging future of work trend into a reality. For many organisations, the working dynamics for their staff from this point on could forever change. Organisations could be more open to flexible and remote working as an ongoing option for their staff.

As individuals were calling for this to happen, the talent pool would open up to those who were previously left out of the job market. This could have been due to their circumstances or location. Organisations could open up their vacancies globally, gaining talent in their workforce that they previously could not access. The future of work has been fast-tracked, and the post-Covid-19 working world could be vastly different from the one we knew.

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