We must listen
When I think of the term ‘soft skills’ it feels like a misnomer and yet also appropriate. I say a misnomer because ‘soft’ as opposed to ‘hard’ makes powerful human qualities like empathy seem less important than more practical skills – a manifestly false proposition.
But ‘soft’ also evokes comfort and flexibility, and it’s so important that we, as leaders of teams, do our best to ensure both are fostered and maintained. Our people need to be emotionally and physically comfortable to do their best work; equally, we must be flexible and accommodating to individual circumstances and personalities.
Our YouGov-powered research into workers’ experiences of remote working during lockdown was very illuminating in many ways, but something that jumped out at me is who is looking forward to returning to the corporate workplace and who isn’t.
Compared with other age groups, 18 to 24-year-olds have fared less well in working remotely: they’re less likely to have a suitable home office, and more likely to feel isolated and distracted. It’s no wonder they’re also more likely to want to return.
At the same time, we also found that most workers overall want to work remotely more often in future. There is no one solution that fits all. We must listen, with compassion, to our employees’ needs and be willing to be flexible to support them as best we can. Organisations must have seen the need to recalibrate their modus operandi, not just during Covid-19, but also for the foreseeable future. Employee wellbeing is the key to organisational performance and that requires the right workplace, wherever that might be.
Linda Hausmanis is CEO of the IWFM