Written by Allan Jeory
One of the main discussions I have had with candidates over the years is “flexibility!” Flexibility of hours, late starts, early finishes…as long as they get the hours in somewhere, candidates want the flexibility for a number of reasons. We have the technology, why aren’t we using it!?
A number of things have always seemed to stop businesses being flexible, be that security, or not having laptops but desktops, however the main reason has always been trust! Can I trust someone to work from home when I am not watching them? Can I trust that someone will work as hard as they would if they were in the office? You cannot always trust that they will work as hard, but you do have to trust them regardless.
I can’t remember who said this to me once, but they said “if I don’t trust someone, why would I hire them in the first place?” Which I have always felt is a brilliant way to look at it. If you do give someone the flexibility and trust to work from home, you may get so much more from them, not just in hard work but loyalty too. If it turns out that they didn’t put the effort in from home then they are going to lose the privilege they have asked for. You have to empower staff to make the right decisions.
The interesting thing about the lockdown situation is that businesses have now HAD to find a way. Funnily enough, all those trust issues have gone, quite quickly they have been able to get laptops for people to work from home, they have VPN’s set up for security. It’s been easy when we HAD to!
Fast forward circa 3 months, sadly some businesses will have folded, some will be on the edge and some will be flourishing, especially if you sell hand sanitiser!
We have given our staff the option, “we have made the office safe, would you like to come back in?” People couldn’t wait to get back and see each other, it can be a lonely 3 months with four walls and a TV for company! From next week we will have half the team back in the office (not enough room in the current office for everyone to distance.)
We put a suggestion box out at Christmas in 2019 for staff to make suggestions on anything they would like to see to improve their work/life balance, or just anything at all. Flexible working came up on a number of suggestions, so we implemented it. If you don’t trust your staff they will leave anyway.
Now we are teetering on the edge of some kind of “normality” and businesses/people coming back to offices etc… will we see this flexibility remain and embrace the technology we have, or will we go back to old ways of working and not empower our staff? We have proved it can work, we have proved it is possible, now it’s a choice and not an obstacle.
Personally, I like being around people. I am happy with my own company (regardless of the arguments I have with myself and the disappointment when I lose) however I love being around people. I miss having a joke, chatting round the kettle of a morning, just the buzz that a busy office creates. The thing I love most about working in recruitment is the people, I love meeting clients and candidates for a coffee, whilst some of the stories you hear over a beer are both staggering and brilliant in equal measures. I think we are some way from a beer and a story but we are getting some form of normality.
The point is, we have a choice now. What will you choose to do with your business? Back to the “old ways” or embrace the technology we have and continue to trust your staff?
The choice is yours!
Would be good to hear your stories and understand what changes you see for you and your business?