What are the lessons for employers from the pandemic?

The CIPD has published a guide based on an employers’ survey that asked about all types of flexible working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly drawing the distinction between ‘flexibility of location’ (tasks that can be done anywhere and those that need to be done a specific location) and ‘flexibility of hours’, ie tasks that can be done anytime and those that are required to be done at a specific time).

Managers play a vital role in determining the health, well-being and engagement of their teams.   The old adage that ‘you join an organisation, but leave a manager’ could never be more true.  This is especially the case where line managers or indeed HR professionals do not pay attention to mental health.  The report emphasises that a line manager’s behaviour and the culture they create in their team is the biggest influence on an employee’s work experience.

The report suggests seven strategies for hybrid working where the work location can be flexible:

  1. Develop the skills and culture need for open conversations about well-being
  2. Encourage boundary-setting and routines to improve well-being and prevent overwork
  3. Ensure effective co-ordination of tasks and task-related communication
  4. Pay special attention to creativity, brainstorming and problem-solving tasks
  5. Build in time, including face-to-face time, for team cohesion and organisational belonging:
  6. Facilitate networking and inter-team relationships
  7. Organise a wider support network to compensate for the loss of informal learning

When it comes to ‘flexibility of hours’, employers who have some staff able to work flexibility and those who have fixed times and location must consider fairness across the teams to avoid risk of resentment or conflict.   It is also worth embracing a team-based approach to designing work, co-ordinating patterns of availability between team members to cover the required time slots.

In summary line managers would benefit from analysing work tasks in terms of ‘flexibility of location’ and ‘flexibility of hours’ and review the seven strategies outlined above.

If you would like to know more about creating excellent line management practice and culture, please get in touch with Hafton by emailing us at info@haftonconsultancy.com.