By Tim Jackson
This pandemic has been the single biggest catalyst to get everyone thinking about their work practices, home workspace needs, transport frustrations and commercial leases. Employees have realised they don’t need to be in the office 5 days a week to communicate and feel part of an organisation or team. Employers have learnt that with a small amount of effort and planning, they can implement initiatives to help their staff feel connected and included while being distributed.
I talk to my team regularly, here’s an insight into what they have shared with me:
- “I’ve realised it’s possible to work from home most of the time while my kids are in school. I only need to be in the office once or twice a week.”
- “I’ve always wanted to move to my holiday home and travel in once a week, or even fortnight.”
- “Working virtually actually makes sense, I can’t believe we have all been going to offices for so long!”
- “My one-minute commute from the kitchen to the study is amazing. Why have I been wasting 2+ hours a day in peak hour traffic, spending thousands of dollars on transporting myself to the office five days a week?”
- “I’m feeling a lot healthier being able to exercise earlier or structure my day totally differently because I’m at home and the typical 9 to 5 no longer applies”
As an employer, my own conversations are turning to the question of company spend, culture and overheads.
- “If everyone continues to work from home, we don’t need so much office space.”
- “With less people physically in our office, overheads and utilities have reduced significantly”
- “We were outgrowing our office. With our shift in flexible working, even with our projected growth, the team could stay put for another 5 years. Now I can maximise the office space with a redesign focussed on collaboration or move to a purpose-built collaboration space. Not to mention we’ve eliminated the need to buy more space and parking.
It’s time for businesses and individuals to review their old ways of working, there’s no going back.
Business leaders operating successfully through COVID-19 have adapted and invested in distributed working so their teams could keep performing. Now is the time to continue and provide flexibility wherever possible.
Organisations of all sizes should review and implement distributed and flexible work policies. Ensure there is transparency and that all staff can participate in shaping these new agreements. At Access4, we found it helpful to be clear about the difference between flexible and distributed working.
Distributed Working is the ability for staff to seamlessly work outside the designated office. This could be at home, a café, co-working space or while travelling. They are not reliant on attending a company office location to successfully perform in their role.
Flexible Working is the ability for an individual to work on the days, and range of hours they desire. With this approach we recommend also including designated contact hours (e.g. be available to others from 10am-2pm weekdays) to ensure availability for meetings and collaboration but start or finish times are left up to the individuals’ personal preferences.
We learned a lot putting our own policies in place. The key areas we focused on were:
- Challenge historical thinking and identify which positions can be flexible and distributed.
- Are the distributed working conditions suitable for a wider range of working hours? Wellbeing and ergonomics are important, an OH&S focussed checklist can help.
- Use a roster or booking system for your office desks and workspaces to spread out contact and manage attendance limits.
- The physical or fit out changes your office needs to help team members spread out or collaborate more effectively.
- Communication and technology systems needed to support teams and their distributed collaboration needs when connected with each other, and your customers.
It’s clear the time is now for businesses to adapt and throw out the ‘old school’ mentality that ‘you need to be in the office to be productive’. For those willing to make the change you can expect to see more engaged staff, retention of top talent, and improved recruitment attracting new candidates from markets and locations previously out of reach. A renewed focus on metrics that matter ensures your team are clear on the outcomes expected from their roles. Bring transparency to those metrics through easily accessible business performance dashboards and BI tools as everyone adapts to the new ways of working.
You aren’t alone in this. There are speciality providers to guide and facilitate the changes that businesses are going through, like workplace designers to add more collaborative and break out space to your existing offices. Access4 partners are here as your trusted Managed Services Provider to ensure that voice, video and collaboration systems, in addition to your hardware are ready to keep staff and your customers connected.
Ready to connect with a Managed Service Provider? Send us a message: