How’s your crystal ball?
My bet is that you’ve spent a fair bit of the last 15 months or so gazing deeply into it and trying to predict the future.
And I’m equally sure that lots of your predictions – like mine – have been wide of the mark.
If there was any certainty to be had when the pandemic struck, it was that nothing was certain.
And in many ways, it still isn’t. We don’t really know what the next 12 months holds or whether things will ever return to what we used to call normal.
So, to help deliver a little certainty in these uncertain times, here are five things we know we have learned during the pandemic.
- Flexibility is here to stay.
It doesn’t matter what you think about working from home, your staff have got used to it. For many, the thought of a full-time return to the office is unimaginable. Many of them will love the fact that they can more easily juggle work and home responsibilities, and they’ll certainly love the savings they are making on the office commute.
Whatever system you have operated in the past, be prepared to pivot to more flexible structures in the coming months. If you don’t, you face the real possibility of your staff voting with their feet.
- Wellbeing matters
Mental health is at the top of the modern agenda – and people are increasingly conscious of the way work impacts on their wellbeing.
You’ll need to ensure you have policies and procedures in place to help all your staff remain in the best possible mental health. And it’s also important that you put structures in place to help those who are struggling.
The pandemic has taken its toll on our mental health in a variety of ways – and returning to work in the future will be a challenge for many people. Start preparing now for how you can help your staff transition to the new working normal.
- Put your people first
Hopefully this is something the pandemic has underlined rather than taught us from scratch.
Remember that old cliché about your people being your greatest asset, well the pandemic has well and truly shown the truth behind it. If any part of your managerial structure still clings to the old belief that your staff are just a commodity, now is the time to root it out and change tack.
Think of how quickly staff responded to the crisis, how they have adapted and how their commitment has helped your company survive when others have failed. You couldn’t have got through this without them.
- Technology is not as frightening as we all thought.
Think about it.
If you had told your staff two years ago that they would quickly learn how to do their job from home, become masters of video conferencing, file sharing, messaging platforms and the like, they would probably have laughed in your face.
But we have all done it – learning useful new skills along the way. Take the time to remind your staff that they know a lot more about tech now than they did before the pandemic and have mastered new skills without breaking sweat. It’s amazing what we can do when we really have to.
- Boundaries are key
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has underlined the need for clear work/life boundaries.
Already we are seeing a movement towards banning work emails out of office hours, partly in response to fears that staff who are working from home are not being the chance to switch off from work.
As more and more of us work flexibly, it’s important that you are clear about what is – and isn’t – expected of your staff and how you will help manage these work/life boundaries.
All in all, there’s plenty to think about in terms of the future of work in the next few months and years.
Of course, we are here to help, and if you need any advice on any issues to do with HR just click on the button and we’ll do the rest.