Consultant and author Dave Coplin has spoken of the challenges that workplace and facilities managers will face in adapting to the greater volume of flexible working set to be a legacy of the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking on an IWFM webinar yesterday, Coplin said that workplace managers should expect a “bumpy ride” as they wrestled with the new realities.
“We’ve been talking for at least a decade about the opportunity of flexible working, and at its core is this need for a fundamental cultural change of headship styles. But it’s hard for lots of people in organisations, and in particular it’s the middle managers who will struggle most with this.”
Organisations doing well at reopening to their workforces are, said Coplin, “those that are not just reopening, but reopening and then resolving to reevaluate and listen to see how their employees feel.”
People’s expectations of their workplaces will dramatically change over the next six months, said Coplin, “but I would argue even longer period than that”.
What’s needed is to create a workplace that is fit for purpose in accommodating that cultural change.
“Don’t for a minute think we never have to go back in to the office. This isn’t about never going back. But we need to work out what is best of this experience and how can you perpetuate that.
“Organisations have to lean into this experience and talk with their people to work out the right balance. They need to build a flexible working approach that works for everyone.”
Flexible working used to be about deciding to work from home on a Friday, for example. But from now on, said Coplin, it should be about employees being empowered to work from the most appropriate locations “and only go into when office when I absolutely need to”.
“If we can flip that default, that would be one of the best legacies form this horrible experience that we’ve had to endure.”