A growing appreciation of how flexible working can benefit organisations’ workflows is characterising the corporate response to the Covid-19 crisis as we enter the fifth month of lockdown for office workers.
That was one takeaway from the latest in the IWFM’s series of ‘Turbulent Times’ webinars, held on Wednesday.
Ian Ellison, co-founder and director of 3edges was joined by Rachel Edwards, senior strategist workplace futures development for Lendlease; Andrew Mawson, founder of Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA); Mark Preece, head of communications services at Ricoh UK; and Allison English, deputy CEO at Leesman.
In Preece's view, companies had been through three stages of awareness.
“There was a period of denial at the beginning. Then, when they realised it was serious, they moved into panic because nobody had planned to do this, nobody knew what to do. And I think over the last four to six weeks they've moved to accepting that this is the new way things are going to have to be done so they are having serious conversations about how does the company stay productive and how do we get the most out of our people? It's down to people’s wellbeing and health.
For English, the work set-up that people have at home has been affecting performance considerably.
“Some clients who were really tech-savvy before have had a pretty easy transition. But I know people who didn’t have laptops and were all of a sudden told to work from home.”
Organisations are now asking themselves questions about their longer-term response, said English.
“What does the recovery look like? How do we continue to support people who are going to work from home and how do we figure out what the future office looks to be able to meet business objectives and support people who are used to coming in five days a week and going to come in two days a week?
For Andrew Mawson, fresh management skill requirements are set to become key as organisations seek to create a new workplace balance.
“From now on, the home will continue to play a major part in overall workplace strategy for organisations and individuals. Organisations need to be able to manage in a virtual organisation model. Things are different now and you need to become very good at it.”
The full webinar is available from the IWFM’s Turbulent Times webinar hub.