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There is definitely light at the end of the Covid19 Coronavirus tunnel in the UK. Of that, there is no doubt, the NHS vaccine rollout is moving apace and notwithstanding vaccine passports to get to the bar of my local fave CAMRA real ale watering hole, we might be entering a ‘newer normal’.
Many of us have been working from home, Teams, Zoom, Hangouts, Bluejeans (WTF?) all mastered and significant ICT infrastructure put into play. Having completed 12 years of transformation in just about 12 months, what will the newer normal probably look like?
Well, its unlikely to look like the old normal, in my humble opinion. This is backed up by some of the academics in this area and some of the surveys made on the effect, pros and cons of working from home (WFH) on us all.
It has of course for many in management, put a focus on how work we all do is measured. We used to very much have an ‘input based view’ and I know a few places where at the start of 2020, this still was the norm. IE if bottoms are on seats between core hours, the ‘input’ is there, so most likely the work is being done. Well, as we all know, there are productive bottoms and sometimes lazy bums…
Output based management, in contrast focuses on the work that gets completed. The more switched on organisations have used this to great effect, where homeworkers clear x days work, in x days, regardless of when they do so, time of day they do so, or if they are performing it in a onesie. Frankly, if its being done, we are fulfilling our contract of employment, are we not.
Not having to get dressed or washed so often is having a terrible effect on deodorant sales, the arse of which has dropped out. How long are your roll-ons now lasting?
Taking a commute out of most working days, saves us an hour or more. Most of us can be productive straight after that first early morning latte or that camomile tea, avoiding the traffic jams, road rage or wasted time. The boffins estimate this represents a 6%+ pay rise effectively and we seem to like it. Personally when I chat with work colleagues, we all agree we have a little new appreciation for the commute. 25% of it was useful thinking and composure time. We all agree we would lose the remaining 75% natch!
Even with Zoom/Teams its not the same from home as being in the office space, collaborating and being creative. Many employers are realising this and prefer when staff are in ‘actual’ office days, more collaborative, new ideas work and events, get more from staff. Surveys seem to suggest that 2-3 days in the office may be the norm going forward, although clearly personal preferences will vary.
Younger staff, over half of university graduates, or employees with cramped or limited space at home clearly prefer a race back to office working. Parents with families, quite often the opposite. In China, it has been found that staff not spending enough time in the office are at a disadvantage for promotion and advancement. Being less visible is a disadvantage, even when output based management is in play. Just one aspect that HR perhaps need to be aware of, for the ‘newer normal’.
On the HR front clearly for the newer normal, there might have to be consideration made for staff who can no longer be offered working from home. Should we consider compensating those? Also, will our health and safety policy need to be extended to our homes when working there?
Who would have thought that ICT would perhaps be the least of our concerns?
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Bring It Back - McAlmont & Butler.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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