Although this year has brought quite a few challenges, many of us have found ways to work around them. We are also left with the realization of how critical adaptability is in order to thrive in a changed personal and business environment. For most of us, that is highly dependent on being a part of a company that enables such flexibility.
All kinds of industries have had “business as usual” up in the air when covid-19 hit. My line of business were no different, and eventually, we had to move from a normal office environment to a home office base. Other companies have had to in addition alter their production, their core processes and even their products itself to fit in with the new reality.
As all companies are different, so are its employees. The business magazine Forbes asked earlier in 2020 whether working from home is the future of work. In many ways, I think this pandemic catapulted us into a state where the treshold for working from home is set much lower. Many business leaders and department leaders alike will also have noted that flexibility means different things for different individuals. Some report higher productivity, others less.
Research from the early phases of the pandemic (in March 2020) found that 76% of HR executives in USA reported that the top complaint during February and March were “concerns from managers about the productivity or engagement of their teams when remote.” Yet, enabling this flexibility to those who thrive is vital. So is the need to try to accommodate for the ones that don’t.
Leeway in scheduling and setting up your work hours can bring tremendous benefits, as long as you put in the same amount of effort and get the job done. It allowed me to enjoy a walk in nearby nature when the sunlight was still available during fall and winter, and to put in extra work when I felt an additional boost of energy in the evening. I have very much enjoyed the increased flexibility for an optimized work-life balance despite the restrictive pandemic (I have also had the time to miss the office environment!). At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that face-to-face teams perform better than virtual ones, and that the increasingly popular research area of psychological safety goes down when we only interact digitally.
The importance of flexibility is in any case well established for the year to come.