The COVID-19 pandemic has caused an unprecedented shake-up in how businesses recruit and maintain employees. With far more people working remotely and the role of the office being redefined, the existing rulebook has been torn up as employees and employers alike reassess what they want from their working relationship.
With economic turbulence on the way and lots of businesses laying employees off, it’s easy to think that employers are now generally in a very strong position, and that they have the ability to dictate terms and working arrangements to employers. However, that isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to high-quality talent.
Highly able employees, whatever the global economic situation, know their value in the marketplace and expect employers to recognize this. So employers still have work to do in enabling the working environment, arrangements and practices that talented employees are looking for in order to attract them.
But what does that mean in the current landscape? Here are three key factors to consider:
1. Enabling the working patterns employees want
Employees are making it clear that the flexibility of work that the pandemic has given them is something they want to keep hold of long-term. For example, research by Remote has found that
81% of employees would move to live somewhere else if they could do so, without any impact on their job prospects.
Remote work widens the talent pool that employers can access, but it also means that there is more competition for the best candidates.
The knock-on effect of this increased competition is that employers will have to go the extra mile in giving employees as much flexibility as possible. Unless the employer operates in an industry where office attendance is a necessity, insisting employees work the nine-to-five, or attend the office five days a week, just isn’t going to cut it any more. If a candidate wants variable working hours, the ability to work four days a week, or only wants to come into the office for essential meetings, then employers are going to have to give it to them unless they have a very good reason not to.
2. Constantly adapt your workspaces
This time of change within the business world is not going to end any time soon. And that’s not just because of the direct impact of COVID-19 on how, where and when people work. It’s also because of what will happen in the wider business world, where many businesses will have to adapt and respond to the increasingly rapid pace of change in order to thrive – or even just to survive.
Either way, workplace layouts and the nature of workspaces will need to be regularly reviewed in order to meet the changing needs of both the business and the workforce. For example, if a team is designated to a new project, then they will need both workstation and meeting room space to work together, and so space will be required to accommodate them. Alternatively, changes in social distancing measures or varying satisfaction with home-working may require an employer to scale their total office capacity up or down.
Employees will be the best source of information as to what measures are required and when, and in any case, they will expect their views and feelings to be taken into consideration by an employer who values them.
3. Give them space to collaborate
Many businesses are finding that a hybrid working model, where employees work partly in the office and partly from home, is the way forward. In this situation, it’s absolutely essential that when employees attend the office, they know their trip has been worthwhile and that they can get a meaningful amount of work done efficiently and effectively.
As much of their time spent in the office will be for face-to-face collaboration with colleagues, employees will expect meeting rooms and breakout zones to be plentiful in number so they’re available when required, big enough to accommodate social distancing measures, and fully equipped technically for video collaboration. Additionally, they also need to know that the people they need to collaborate with will be in the office at the same time as them, ideally before they start their journey there. Workplace scheduling software that connects both meeting room availability, office workstation bookings and the timetables of individual employees can be extremely useful in enabling this.