Flexible working or Back to your desks – the big debate! A Safer Hand Solutions blog by Jo Glover

After almost 18 months of ‘adaptation’ for employers and employees to find a way of working during the pandemic – the world is slowly starting to wake up; and for some organisations – that means, back to work full time, back to work in the office, no more flexibility, no more teams, zoom, working in pj’s from the waist down – how do we all feel about that?

Having worked in recruitment for a (substantial) number of years – I have watched in awe, at the landscape of ‘presenteeism’ at work change during the last 18 months.

Companies before Covid-19 were shunning the idea of home working, bosses being totally inflexible at childcare woes and sickness; having to use holidays because your washing machine needed to be signed for.

Usually, other than external Salespeople – the idea of working from home was just unimaginable.

Now, fast forward and statistics show that over 80% of people in the UK were working from home. Of course, there were roles and businesses that couldn’t – manufacturing, production and all the amazing key workers who – I still believe – are solely responsible for keeping us going and ALIVE through all of this (SHOUT OUT to all you nurses, doctors, healthcare, emergency services, NHS workers, trades people, retail staff, food production, teachers…. The list goes on).

For the most part, working from home has been a revelation. Employers found their staff were productive, successful, driven, adaptable, willing and some even thriving working from home. Businesses excelled!!

I think – for me – it opened up a world of really understanding your colleagues and the people in your business – everyone who enjoyed a zoom call with me for example, saw my cats, witnessed me run downstairs to answer the door to the food shop or the Amazon driver (now my best friend and confidant), saw me with bed hair, saw all the inside of my home (dependent where the internet signal worked best) – I’ve seen colleagues’ kids, dogs, husbands/wives, had teams calls while home schooling and sometimes even from the hot tub.

I know my team better now than ever before!

It proved we could change; we could make it work.

It’s all about HOW MUCH you wanted it to work. I found most days, I was more productive – I hadn’t got to endure that awful commute, I didn’t need to dart off for an appointment from the office – so I found I was working longer, earlier in the morning, later in the evening – yes, I was stopping to do a load of washing or hoover around during the day but ultimately it was about balancing work and life to avoid not going slowly insane.

To flip this all totally on its head – I have also heard the horror stories – client’s staff ‘working from home’ – while drunk in the garden, out and about delivery driving for Hermes while logged on for extra income or generally not doing what they should be doing!

Correct me if I’m wrong but I think in the main, it has been a positive thing for many businesses, and employers and business owners have really seen the loyalty they receive from good staff.

So I now ask – now restrictions have lifted or eased somewhat – as an employer, what are you doing?

Having everyone back in the office? Are you going back to rigid, pre-Covid opinions?

Or are you adapting – hybrid roles? Working from home full time as an option? Changing hours to suit lifestyle?

Have you realised that there is a life outside of work? Have you realised that people have family and friends out of work that some, actually quite like?

I know here at SaferHand Solutions, we are able to work in a hybrid capacity – we like working from home equally as much as we like to spend time with our colleagues and peers in the office.

We have reduced our working hours – to enable us to be home at a reasonable hour – to be able to collect the kiddies, be present with your family or get to that gym class at a reasonable time. (Obviously, all workload dependent too – we are still here if you need us after hours).

We are forever grateful that our business owners saw the benefits of what covid-19 essentially forced us to do…. and we have adapted!

If you aren’t being flexible and you are returning to the old way – take a step back and think about it.

Are you getting the most out of your staff? Are your staff happy? Are your staff happy with the balance they have between life and work? Do your staff give you 110% every single day because they know you have their best interests at heart as well as the business….

If the answer to any of those questions is no – Maybe its time to think about the way you are making them work….