Business has been shrouded in uncertainty throughout 2020, and now we are beginning to get a glimpse of normality. However, this new version of normal is still vulnerable to the impending threat posed by COVID, and as a result, we have seen snap lock-downs occur.
While the uncertainty of infection and risk still prevails in this new version of normal, we need to prepare employees and businesses for the unpredictable nature that surrounds us in order to survive and thrive, regardless of snap-lockdowns.
The way employees work has significantly changed, with flexibility and work-from-home options at the heart of this change. This means leaders are facing numerous changes to how they manage their teams and are expected to be more adaptable and inclusive than ever before. These standards ultimately reflect the company’s duty of care to look after the physical and psychological health and wellbeing of their employees whilst at work, in the office or at home. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) explains that the added stressors of moving to remote work and sudden, localised lockdowns impact mental health, with stress, confusion and anger being commonplace as a result of the pandemic.
With these effects becoming the norm, a proactive approach to workforce planning, change management and clear communication is pivotal to sustaining employees’ wellbeing during work, whether this is in or out of their usual workplace.
Managing the transitions between remote work and returning to the workplace is an effective approach to alleviating work tensions. Communication plays a significant role in enabling how we work and needs to be maintained when workers are not face to face. Leaders should ensure their employees have clear expectations, pathways for communication, work plans and roles set in place to streamline the transition between remote and face to face working.
Similarly, leaders need to be open to the needs of employees if they want to see their business thrive. While many look forward to the transition back into the office environment, leaders need to recognise that many employees may have a preference of remote working or are seeking flexible work arrangements. It’s important to be open to these conversations in order to maintain employee wellbeing while ensuring a smooth transition.
Whilst reactive approaches are useful for uncertain contexts, proactive approaches hold significant value, and was the key reason why some businesses thrived and adapted easily throughout the uncertainty. For some industries, an over-reliance on traditional practice, workplace habits or workflows may be inhibiting your ability to become adaptable and flexible.
Workforce planning allows businesses to build their capabilities in a way that makes them responsive to change. Taking the time to re-evaluate now, for future unpredictable changes or growth allows you to develop your agile and responsive frameworks. It makes you more adaptive to fast paced innovation and technological changes, government policies and other external forces beyond the current snap lockdowns.
A Human Agency holds a wealth of experience in helping businesses thrive throughout any circumstance. We have the capability to build your essential workforce insights, provide flexible options to workplaces and grow your confidence in managing diverse working arrangements. Don’t be afraid of uncertainty, get in touch to find out how we can help you navigate not just the new normal but the next normal.