Can you remember the relationship between you and your boss in pre Covid?
You had a commute to the office, you chatted around the coffee machine or in the kitchen with your colleagues. You went to the gym at lunchtime. Your manager sat not too far from you, and you had a one-to-one meeting once a month or maybe once per week. You witnessed your boss attending meeting after meeting. Now you don’t know what your boss is doing and likewise they cannot see you, yet you both get the job completed.
Office-based workers no longer have a rigid work structure or working location dictated to them. They now work from their home and have a degree of flexibility. Some prefer to start early and finish earlier, others prefer the later start with a later finish whilst some may have downtime in the middle of the day. Either way, the hours get worked and the job gets done. Zoom/Teams/Skype have become best friends, allowing staff to meet with their boss face to face on a more regular and informal basis and often for less time. As a result, employers (generally) now trust their employees to be working from home and get on with their work and deliver.
Covid has allowed employers and employees to see what a true work-life balance can be and for most this does not include crushed tubes, traffic jams or an expensive shop-bought sandwich.
Many office staff have not returned to their base for almost 18 months, but most businesses have continued and in many instances, thrived. Our clients tell us that because of the more flexible work-life balance, the relationship with their employees working from home is a better one.
Clearly, there will be many people who don’t have a great workspace at home and so they will prefer the structure and formality of an office-based work environment. And whilst everyone will prefer not having to spend time commuting, the benefits of face-to-face time and socials after work will make travelling to/from the office worthwhile.
The next year will bring many challenges but a key one will be to get this balance right – maintaining the benefits experienced from the flexible home working style but making the transition back to (some) office working to get the invaluable face-to-face social interaction.
This week the Government are encouraging staff to return to their offices but we are seeing a resistance in candidates wanting to do this full-time coupled with anxiety over travelling on public transport. Employers also need to achieve this by creating a covid-safe work environment if everyone returns. So, not that easy.
The majority of our clients are talking about a hybrid way of allowing some autonomy over working a variable number of days in the office with the remainder at home. It remains to be seen how this evolves in practice and I suspect not too many people relish the idea of getting on crowded trains and tubes again (although this is happening) so there may be more flexibility over ‘standard working hours’.
We believe the shift in working relationships is a positive step and reflects the fact that employees are now trusted far more than pre-Covid to manage their own time to do their work. Employees are individuals and paid for their talent, enthusiasm, experience, expertise and, importantly, for delivery of their work to agreed time frames wherever and whenever that may be.
What do you think? Has your relationship with your employer improved over the past 18 months? Do you feel you now have more flexibility over where you work (home v office) and therefore even where you choose to live? Do you feel subject to less scrutiny from your boss and is there more trust in the employer/employee relationship – just get the job done and everyone is happy?
Here at VisionFR we have opportunities for candidates to work a hybrid of office and home working. We know our clients all value their staff and supply all the tools for a hybrid mix of working. If you are interested, please contact Deborah Broadbent on 07866618763.