Has Covid-19 given businesses a push to make change!
Working from home, which, if done right, has the potential to advance work-life balances. This new way of working is more flexible — a benefit we need to maintain for sure, but we must not miss this opportunity to pass us by without reflecting on what we have learnt about ourselves and our businesses.
After six months of lockdown and as we make plans to return to our offices where possible what nuggets of information and new strengths will we bring with us!
Mia Kutner runs her own HR consultancy, Koru Coaching, where she provides expertise in the areas of transformation and organisation development to business leaders.
Mia shares her intriguing insights on the subject of working from home:
With many people laid off during this crisis or working in front line jobs that cannot be conducted from home, I consider myself lucky to have a role that facilitates remote working.
What have you found most challenging?
As a working Mum of 2 primary school children & an interim HR Director, one of my biggest challenges have been combining work and home life, it was no longer about balance but integration, domestic responsibilities were greater than ever with all of us at home all day, every day, having to supervise schoolwork and coordinate class Zoom calls while leading an HR team and supporting an impacted the organisation through unprecedented circumstances.
No commute, in theory, should have meant more time, however, my working day started earlier and ended later, the normal transitioning routines were no longer. I soon realised that the ‘dead time’ of my commute was in fact when I mentally prepared for the day, reflected and planned for the challenges ahead. This buffer zone between worlds was more important than ever but had completely evaporated.
Like everyone else I have adapted, I now go for a walk before and/or after work for the essential headspace and more recently I have joined an outdoor yoga class to combat stiffness from sitting all day looking at a screen.
In order to deliver for organisations, I talk to people to understand their challenges and priorities, to help them formulate change plans, although, we would all have been lost without the use of the video conferencing, our days are now homogenous, lacking variety and informal social engagement. I do not think I am alone in missing the social aspects of the workplace, the impromptu cake in the canteen, water cooler conversations, all of which have an implicit value in terms of creating a sense of belonging and connectedness.
We are going to have to reframe employee engagement initiatives to counteract the separateness from which we now work and obviously HR has a huge role to play.
How should we rewrite the playbook?
This period must surely have blasted the remnants of presenteeism culture into last century, people have delivered new and improved products, services & systems all remotely.
This is a good thing, however, as we embark on a new workplace, it is worth bearing in mind that to get the best out of a team there must be an even playing field – video calls definitely have a place, combined with face-to-face meetings with everyone either together or apart.
What do you see as positive developments?
It has been impressive the quality of delivery that has been achieved during the crisis. It has brought us all together while highlighting the importance of alignment, communication and clarity. It no longer matters where someone is working from, once they know what to do and deliver what is required.
The bond of trust between organisations and their employees is more essential than ever and perhaps now harder to enhance, we are dependent on leaders to nurture their team relationships and share their vision for what is possible. The role of the leader has never been more critical, we are resilient as individuals and organisations and we will persevere and recreate a better version of ourselves coming out the other side.
What would you like to see happening in the next few months?
With remote working here to stay, the importance of wellbeing from a holistic perspective is critical and employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees have the appropriate ergonomic setup, flexibility to integrate their colliding worlds and opportunities to feel connected to their colleagues and purpose.
As leaders, we, therefore, need to prioritise employee engagement and create opportunities for social connections, virtual or otherwise when it is safe to do so.
The workplace of the future should focus on collective activities - team sessions, brainstorming, workshops, learning, discussion and decision making, the value of being under the same roof can only be properly realised if collaboration and creativity are prioritised for when we are together.