LEHIGH VALLEY INTER REGIONAL NETWORKING & CONNECTING CONSORTIUM

Focus & Trends in Business

Companies Flexing In Response To The Corona-Virus and Possibly The Future

By: Donna Cornelius, CEO/Executive Director, LINC & Andrew Brown, HR Business Partner, Nixon Power Services

This article did not start out about the Corona-virus, but as we wrote this it became abundantly clear that flexible hours and remotely working is the reality of today’s world. As we are all experiencing, for businesses today there is a new norm. In order to be productive companies and organizations realized the need or urgency to work with the change. Because as the saying goes, “What you resist – persists.”

Other than manufacturing plant floors and distribution centers, I would say that what I am seeing is that many other business lines are working remotely.

Initial thoughts on this topic is that incorporating flexible work hours is a strong means of retention. It is creating a culture that goes beyond the corporate standards. However the current question is: How is it working within the constructs of business.

Did COVID-19 catch many companies by surprise with the need to shift quickly and without true knowledge on how it will work? Has it been “learn as you go”, struggling to make technology meet everyone’s needs? Are there SOPs to manage the new processes of communication and getting projects complete. How have you shifted in recruiting, interviewing and onboarding?

Is the mindset behind the need to shift a focus on “This is happening to me!” (victim) or “This is an opportunity for me (a possibility to create).”

Flexible hours is not a new topic

For the last several years flexible and remote work has become a more common place for some companies. But for many the structure of cubicles and a clock leads to the perception of more control. If more companies had flexible work hours, then even in times like this, you wouldn’t lose work time or productivity.

On the other side of this “pandemic” is life as normal. But we challenge that life is now! Are you going to be ready or are you ready now? We challenge that what now seems unusual is going to be the new norm.

Flexibility – preparing for the other side of the pandemic

Talent acquisition and retention in a competitive world means realizing that the old days of 9 to 5 and sitting in a cubicle does not align with a more progressive, productive workforce. In recent years there has been more talk about creating a flexible work schedule for employees.
Guess what? That time is now! What used to be positioned as a perk is now being recognized by talent professionals as a necessity to attract and retain today’s talent.

According to the Global Talent Trends 2019 Report, 72% of talent professionals recognize that flexibility at work is one of the top four trends influencing your workplace.

Studies (Bloomberg Radio Dissects Millennial Minds) show that 77% of Millennials say that flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for people their age. This leads to:

  • Effective and efficiency
  • Remote, flexible hours

HR Perspective – Here is what to consider for flexible work hours in light of today’s work.

When managing productivity what managers often fail to consider is STRESS. Consider the stresses that happen before your employee even gets to work. Then there is the outside stresses while at work. There are many desirable aspects to working remotely that may eliminate or reduce the stress for your workforce.

  1. THE COMMUTE: Commute time is a large component of this stress reduction. Less commute time equals more work time and focus during the work day. With the ability for flexible work, an employee can retain emphasis on work and not have to bring the psychological dilemma and time of a commute to and from work into their internal equation of “time for work”.Example: An employee has more than an hour of commuting time in heavy traffic. By the time she reaches work she is stressed, tired and needs a bit of a break. However, the flexibility of working from home means less time and less stress. She can easily go from morning coffee to the proverbial desk.
  2. THE COST SAVINGS: Removal of some commuting costs of time and fuel allow an employee’s paycheck to go farther, raising the net disposable income without an increase in gross wages.
  3. WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Another component to bring into the equation is the balance of personal life during “normal business hours”. The decision no longer has to be made to choose domestic needs over time at the office. These things can be done simultaneously with a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home. Child care and home emergencies can be handled without work interruption, talk about stress relief!
  4. ENERGY LEADS TO PRODUCTIVITY: Finally, it allows for an improvement to personal energy and the ability to refuel your internal battery at your own pace and convenience. Stop for lunch. Take advantage of the warmer weather to get sun and increase energy and joy levels. (This actually makes a huge difference for getting things done.)

The majority of employees feel themselves stressed at work. The ability to balance personal needs and remove the necessity for a daunting commute, not only improves the stress level of employees, but it means more time for productivity!

For many, companies may have been forced to jump into “work from home” and “flexible work”. But as you may be experiencing it can make your employees more productive.

  • How is your company faring during this time?
  • What are your numbers showing for productivity?
  • Have you gained a new perspective for how you can be productive and flexible?

Finally – are you ready to answer the workforce upcoming questions of “Why can’t we do this all the time?”