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Freedom at work is no longer considered a fad, it’s in full swing with 9.9 million people enjoying working from home following the pandemic. A trend which took hold is showing no signs of abating and instead has become the preference for small businesses and corporate companies.
So why is this way of working so popular? Mainly remote working enables staff to work the way they want giving control over their personal desires and behaviours rather than being forced into spending money and time commuting long distances. It’s great for working parents who otherwise might find it difficult to juggle their children and their job. It helps businesses to save capital on buying expensive buildings to accommodate their staff and it increases productivity.
All in all, this now established way of working has brought benefits to millions and clearly overshadows the negatives.
Every company should want their staff to be happy and healthy as this will lead to a greater level of productivity. Plus, not all staff members are looking for the highest paid job and instead they want to see other immaterial benefits such as how will they be treated and will their opinions matter. These are simple requirements and can be delivered but only if the management team truly understand the needs of their staff. Treating them like adults as opposed to managers dictating their actions is the best way to ensure that staff remain in employment for longer periods than workers who feel disgruntled and ignored.
A change in scenery plays a big part in keeping staff occupied and away from being bored. While working in an office gives employees plenty of stimulating opportunities seeing the same faces day in day out can breed an environment of friction and give rise to the dreaded office politics. On the flipside, perhaps the same could be said for working at home but the point relates to giving staff the options to work where they feel most comfortable.
Not all staff have the same work patterns, some are more productive in the morning while others have a preference for working late at night. Forcing staff to work a 9 to 5 routine when they are suited to different hours will apply pressure causing stress and anxiety leading to a poorer performance. Whereas giving staff the opportunity to set their own hours may influence their creativity and enhance their performance.
One option is to consider hybrid working a concept designed so staff and managers can agree on both time in the office and either at home or remote working. While this element reduces the freedom it serves as a compromise so both parties can participate in a trial before making the leap into one specific way of working.
Don't tell, ask
The art of understanding what employees need is different from what they want. The only way to truly know is to have open lines of communication. Assuming will only serve to alienate staff from being forward-thinking in their approach. This process needs to begin at the start of the contract and continue throughout the relationship. The old ways of micromanaging are long gone and have been replaced with trust that regardless of where employees choose to work the role will not only get done but to a much higher standard.
Retaining top talent has always been a challenge for small businesses who find themselves competing with corporates. But unlike bigger companies they do have the ability to be more open minded when it comes to working from anywhere. This alone may provide enough of an incentive during the recruiting process to attract highly skilled workers.
Pigeon holing staff into contracts without flexibility of workplace and hours in the modern business era could see workers looking elsewhere for a better deal. And while your staff maybe part of a team they are individuals with specific needs and should be treated as such.