The novel coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe, bringing along sudden change to the world of work. The attendant effect has impacted physical interaction as well as the dynamics of workplace policies and standards. Thus, many employers are now faced with the urgent need to reassess policies in line with current challenges and realign those components that are not relevant to the new normal.
Dynamic working recognises that employees’ lives should not be centred around a typical 9-5 schedule. It fully understands the uniqueness of individual work styles and focuses on daily productivity. Dynamic working shifts the focus of work from employees being micromanaged to become output/result-oriented, i.e., giving room for creativity and innovation in delivering quality outputs.
Remote work is an aspect of dynamic working which has been embraced globally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important to note that remote working or Work From Home (WHF) is not dynamic working, and dynamic working is not limited to remote working. Dynamic working is not restricted to working remotely but provides employees the opportunity to negotiate working arrangements with their line managers. Managers recognize the agility of their staff which would positively impact productivity, commitment, and give to them a sense of ownership and brand loyalty while everyone still has the ultimate goal in view.
For about a decade, few companies have been adapting to a dynamic working structure. A report from Barclays shows how dynamic working has impacted their entire business. From November 2014 to March 2017, Barclays reported an internal increase of 226% in adapting dynamic working structures. This was a huge undertaking for Barclays, considering they needed to change and rework their policy to suit dynamic working. Some companies who had attempted to institute a similar system but ignored putting in place a policy to back it up failed. Putting in place a policy to drive actions and results would always pay both in the short and long term.
With the enforcement of lockdown measures across countries, there was an undeniable disruption in the existing pattern of work and supervision of employees. The traditional “9-5” work schedule has gradually been eroded by the principles of remote work while accommodating different workstyles with a renewed focus on results. This has no doubt caused a paradigm shift across board. Prior to the pandemic, many offices saw working as being physically present at work. The pandemic has not only ridiculed this thought, but it has forced the majority of businesses and individuals to find ways to both institute and adjust to the new normal. This work transformation within the last three to five months has proven that for most jobs, work should not be limited to the four walls of a building. Organisations that can adopt dynamic work structures are the ones who will suffer less disruption because of this transformation. Technology has been the leverage enabling businesses and organisations to make the transition faster and succeed at doing so.
The way we work is changing for good. And the benefits are enormous for both employers and employees alike. Employers can now save costs incurred in renting, leasing, or buying office spaces. They can also attract talented millennials who are passionate about their jobs but at the same time desire a sense of ‘freedom’. Employees can save time spent commuting to and from the office (especially in busy cities like Lagos, New York, and Beijing) and use it to do meaningful work or bond with their families. Consequently, performance management or appraisals will carry a different meaning, as employee performance is measured on results, not one’s physical presence in the office.
The bedrock of all the coping measures, however, is technology. By utilising technology, innovative organisations have aided their adaptation by exploiting and maximising work-friendly multimedia platforms like google hangout, Microsoft teams, slack and zoom, among others. This allows organisations to continue to drive effective top and lower-level team communication and collaboration. This has ensured that organisations remain productive, and teams continue to collaborate remotely.
All indications show that this new normal is not going away anytime soon. With the pandemic still ravaging lots of communities and death tolls rising, more and more companies are beginning to imbibe this here-to-stay dynamic working. They are modifying people policies to ensure it remains relevant and aligned with the new normal. It is safe to say that any forward-thinking human resource professionals must begin to have deliberate conversations along these lines:
- If the future of work is boundary-less, then what are we doing about it?
- What will become of the existing physical workspaces?
- What policies do we create to future-proof the organisation?
- How do we protect the organisation and employees from uncertainties?
- If some employees are to work from home or alternative workstations, what provisions will be made?
- How do we provide remote access while securing our data?
These and more are vital questions that need to be seriously considered by Human Resource professionals and the leadership of organisations. Dynamic working is a win/win approach, and, indeed, the way forward for businesses post-COVID.
pcl. is strategically positioned to optimise your people processes and ensure that they are aligned to achieve productivity, thereby meeting the overall objectives of the business and positioning employees to remain engaged with dynamic working structures and the refocused people policies.