What strange times we live in.
How many times have you heard that in the past three weeks? But it’s true. Our everyday lives have been turned upside down. And one of the biggest upheavals has been felt in the business world.
As Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab, I understand these changes completely. Just before the UK’s lockdown began, we told all our employees to work from home for the foreseeable future. While flexible working has been one of our core policies since we started, this wasn’t the case for many other companies.
There are those out there who insisted flexible working wouldn’t work. How can you possibly manage a team when you work remotely? Juggle your daily task list and a demanding newborn/toddler/sick child? Impossible! Take a sick day or annual leave. No, we can’t give you flexible working because then everyone would want flexible working. Sorry! You can’t work from home today because of “various business logistic reasons”.
Well, the floodgates opened, the carpet was ripped out, and just about everything hit the fan. It was nobody’s fault, and nobody could foresee it, and I’m sure nobody would have chosen it. I’m talking, of course, about the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic currently sweeping the globe.
Pretty much overnight, businesses of all shapes and sizes and across dozens of different industries had to completely transform how they work. When faced with two choices – risk going under or allowing staff to work remotely – even those who laughed in the face of flexible working have no choice but to allow it. And just like that it seems that the working world will never be the same again.
A taste for home working
Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people in the UK will have never worked from home before. But now that they’ve had a taste, they’re going to want to have more. People have started to see the light that is flexible working, and it’s only going to fuel their interest in seeking a better work-life balance. I predict that once we finally start to trickle back into the office, that the demand for flexibility is going to skyrocket. And let’s be honest, companies may have no other choice but to adapt further if they want to keep their talent.
A better working world for women
When it comes to looking after the kiddos, the majority of the work falls onto the mum. It’s mostly natural, of course. Women find it harder to return to work after maternity leave due to a plethora of reasons. This could be the costs of childcare, breastfeeding or, most predominantly, the inability to adjust working hours around a more demanding schedule. But now, as we’ve already discussed, flexible working is a lot more ‘do-able’ than originally thought. Women who may have battled against their company to juggle work and being a mum now have more ammunition than they did before. Companies do have the flexibility to allow less working days or flexitime, they just didn’t want to. But now they have no choice. I for one will be delighted to see more strong, talented and skilled working mums back in the workforce.