Flexible working is here to stay: 55% of businesses have flexible work program in place, a number that doesn’t include informal arrangements and organisations that plan to implement one in the near future.
But there’s a catch: employees are struggling with increasing workloads, stress levels and an ‘always-on’ culture.
- The average person on Microsoft Teams is sending 42% more chats after hours
- A whopping 41% of people are considering leaving their current job in the next 12 months.
Hybrid work is the most likely future… if businesses respond to staff sentiment:
- While 73% of employees want flexible and remote work options to remain in place, a similar proportion (67%) feel like they would benefit from more in-person collaboration.
Hybrid could reduce the pressures and stresses that can come with poorly implemented remote set-ups. But businesses need to do more than simply say ‘work from home some of the time, work from the office the rest of the time’.
For the benefits of flexible work to be reaped, leaders also need to actively support people when they aren’t in the office. And that’s something that they’re really not doing enough of at the moment.
- 61% of business leaders say they’re thriving at the moment, compared to just 36% of new employees (a majority of new employees also say they are either surviving or struggling).
So, what can leaders do to be less out of touch?
- Take a leaf out of Citigroup’s book: you may have seen they’ve just rolled out Zoom-free Fridays and a company-wide day-off in May. At a time when most of us are spending far too much time working in the evening and on calls, they’ve taken decisive action to give their people back their time
- Visibly rest: sure, take an hour off to go for a walk, but make sure your people know you’re doing so. By having downtime and showing off about it, you make it more acceptable for others, helping to reduce the rest deficit epidemic
- Seek the views of younger staff: evidence shows they are far more likely to feel like they can’t get a word in during meetings or bring new proposals to the table, and yet these are the people with the most unexpected, innovative ideas. Waste their insight at your own risk.
And what you should avoid?
We’ve already seen how lots of leaders are pretty clueless about how their staff are feeling. So what mistakes are they making when trying to support remote people?
- Calls at every opportunity: constant meetings not only take up precious work time and interrupt concentration, but they also work against the power of asynchronous communication and long-term goal-setting. It’s a potent mix that kills productivity and tires people.
- Forced social time: a fortnightly quiz or drinks is all well and good, but really what staff want is more time to manage their life and spend time with their family and friends. Avoid social work calls unless they really add value and create new bonds.
- Undefined working hours: flexible work allows people to work whenever they want, which is a powerful thing — especially for parents. But employees also need to know when they’ve put in their allotted hours, they’re free to clock off. 6am-2pm? Fine. 8am-12pm and then 3pm-7pm later the same day? Also fine. 8am-10pm? Not fine.
For more Juggle insight on supporting people, take a look at this piece on helping staff with childcare.