Change is permanent is a truism if there ever was one and the Pandemic is both reinforcing and accelerating change that was already happening as well as throwing up new challenges and possibilities. Clearly one challenge that business have to face up to and manage is the shift, to a greater or lesser extent to distance working or home working as it is more commonly and inaccurately called.
The challenges for a business are many . Do we need such large offices and corporate facilities? Do we develop regional hubs , use office rental companies and constantly review our estate requirements? How can we maximize the use of technology , whilst ensuring its security and readiness and develop new systems and platforms that can be used in a multitude of environments? Will we need to pay London weighting allowances or offer subsidized travel packages to employees.
These macro challenges concern all within the business but these challenges offer real possibilities for businesses to recruit and develop staff from new sources where previously they were not available for a variety of reasons. The prospect of home working or less office working and less commuting opens up the possibility of tapping into a new labour pool for whom Monday to Friday 9-5 in an office is not possible. In particular we are talking about returners to the labour market after child birth, those with caring responsibilities, those in relative isolated occasions and those for whom extensive travel is not possible.
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that those businesses who actively recruit and develop in these areas see lower staff turnover, increased productivity and other benefits from employing a more diverse workforce. Into the mix businesses should also consider job sharing and other new working arrangements -all initiatives that tap into a labour pool most businesses are not aware of.
These new working patterns throw up many Pay and Rations issues not least how do we measure performance, how do we set realistic performance targets and how do we manage and coach people to achieve more. Traditional 1 to 1 meetings whilst not entirely a thing of the past will need to be carefully structured and thoughts through. Add in the idea that the home workers might not actually be employees but self employed or freelance and the scale of the challenges and opportunities becomes more apparent. There is no one solution but there are many avenues to explore.