Covid-19 and lockdown has certainly had an impact on every one of our lives; last year most businesses were forced to rethink their plans for the future and the impact of Covid-19 on their business. Fast forward twelve months and working from home has now become the ‘norm’ for most people, encouraging a more flexible lifestyle that both employees and employers have either gotten used to or are now desperate to return to office life. Now as companies begin to plan for a post-lockdown world, the need for a 5-day week in the office is being questioned.
In the past, employees learned to adapt their social lives to fit around office hours, often spending huge amounts of time and money on daily commutes and as a result, missing out on valuable personal or family time. However, after a year of lockdowns, a recent study from Microsoft showed that 56% of employees reported an increase in their levels of happiness while working from home and 79% revealed they are better able to balance running their households with work due to the absence of an office commute. Businesses should now be taking into consideration the new ways of life their staff have adapted to and implement ways to encourage their staff to live a healthy balance of work and life.
Digital marketing company, Colewood, celebrated their 20th anniversary in the industry last year and has already implemented a variety of tools to allow staff to have a more balanced relationship with work. Having recently undergone some internal structural changes, the company have appointed a new Managing Director, Helen Stewart, who is seeing great results from their flexible working scheme. Helen says, “It’s important to give staff the flexibility of remote and office working, especially throughout the pandemic, but the option to work remotely after is also important. We have a hybrid model here at Colewood that the staff really appreciate. It allows flexibility and work life balance as well as hitting business targets and KPIs. This is the model we all will stick to after the pandemic, it’s working well for the business and our teams.”
The company has also been taking on new staff during a time when redundancies elsewhere have been rife. With a long-standing presence in the industry, the Stockton-based company shared some of their tips on creating a healthy environment for its employees:
Flexitime is an alternate work schedule to provide an easier work-life balance for employees. Most places of work who offer Flexitime have core hours (such as 10am-4pm) where employees are required to work – or at least be contactable – and the remaining hours are left to the employee.
There is a split in employees who enjoy working from home and those who want to return to the office; the best way to combat this situation is to offer a hybrid working model of the two. The management team at Colewood has implemented a hot desk system, allowing staff to book a desk at work, should they choose to come to the office on a particular day or week, or allow them to work from home.
For many, there are a range of distractions at home, meaning the prospect of returning to the office is preferential and a hot desk system is a great idea to support these members of your team. It is also beneficial for face-to-face meetings with colleagues or clients, as staff are able to book out specific times together, rather than using video meetings from home.
This has been a really successful system at Colewood and one our management are seeing great results from in terms of quality of work produced and will continue it in future.
It can be hard to keep track of what your team is doing with their time while working from home, so introducing a time logging system to your team schedule is a great way to ensure tasks are being met in a timely manner and staff aren’t overworking themselves at home. By logging tasks against the times spent doing them, it allows employees and employers to manage their time better and ensure they are only working designated hours, whilst still taking regular breaks.
Burnout is a term applied to all roles and ensuring that staff understand the difference between working hours and personal hours is key to a productive, happy team.
Health and wellbeing
With staff working a lot more from home, many have reported struggling to separate work life from their personal lives, often leading to working late hours and feeling overwhelmed. It is key that whilst supporting flexible hours for your team, you also ensure that employees are not overworking themselves; emphasise the importance of mental and physical wellbeing by taking regular breaks and getting fresh air and exercise. For a vast majority of Brits, the only exercise they get through the week is their daily commute to work and for that same majority, they now work from home so it is more important than ever to make sure your staff are getting exercise in another form, such as a morning or evening walk.
It is clear the pandemic has impacted the life of businesses who used to operate solely in offices as employees have become accustomed to more freedom at work. Ensuring staff still have access to these freedoms will be vital in the workplace and a hybrid model is the best option for this. Offering the flexibility of being able to work from home or in the office will be key and businesses should be prepared to adapt their strategies for this in coming months as normal life begins to return.