Lockdowns are forcing us to be flexible & adaptable; and it’s working.
Author: Barry O'Donovan
Published date: 2021/08
If you have been living in Victoria lately flexibility and adaptability are now your middle names. Last year, when COVID-19 gripped the world in its hand and squeezed it tight, it demanded everyone to shift and change in order to survive under its grasp.
Winter of 2020 was a dark one and we believed it would end there... as summer breezed on in and community transmissions dwindled Victorians opened their windows and let freedom seep on in.
“We did it,” we sighed “we’re free.”
And yet, here we are again. Buying new office chairs for the lounge room, helping the kids with craft days over zoom and walking the same 5kms that we did last time.
We have not only had to transform our living spaces into offices and our bedrooms into classrooms but we as workers have also had to transform ourselves. With the snap lockdowns, office caps and specific industry restrictions: flexibility and adaptability are not only our middles names but crucial skills that every candidate/employee needs.
Most employers have had to adapt and promote working from home environments but I, a recruiter for residential construction am starting to see the rigidness creep back in when it comes to working from home. Particularly when it comes to working hours and the expectations of companies who are looking to hire.
There is a huge importance of having a thriving office culture and after all it’s one of the most important aspects a candidate seeks out with a new employer. However, putting that aside and with the market emerging from possibly its most testing of times with such a large skilled candidate shortage, why do some (if not most) employers feel the need to revert to that old “9-5 office” life that we were once so accustomed to?
Lockdown has got me thinking and my advice to all my clients and companies out there who believe they need to return to a systemised and structured workplace would be to look at your workforce now and reflect on the real takeaways COVID has forced upon them. Here are some I’ve seen throughout the industry:
Improved productivity, the work was still done! - Those capable of doing their jobs from home and working flexible hours to suit family life, were still able to meet deadlines and carry out their duties. Not only were the tasks completed; they were improved on in comparison to times when people were in the office. Depending on your own situation, employees encountered fewer distractions or interruptions that they'd normally get in a busy work environment. By being more productive and selective with their dedicated hours.
Happier employees - From speaking with candidates whose companies were able to switch to a WFH environment, they have seen a dramatic improvement in the quality in their work-life balance. So, why change that? Happier employees are more satisfied in their jobs which leads to staff retention which in turn builds the employer’s brand.
Shortage of great candidates – It’s no secret that every industry is in high demand for quality candidates, be it in the construction space, admin, media, finance, etc. Not only that but every industry is willing to pay above market rates to secure quality employees. They’re also willing to allow new workers the flexibility that the pandemic has taught us by offering WFH alternatives. So, why risk losing key staff members to competitors who are willing to offer the little things you are not?
Thanks to the pandemic employers now know that it’s possible to have both; a productive and stimulating job as well as a balanced life outside of work. So why would they want to give that up as restrictions ease?
Thankfully there are employers out there who see the benefits in offering their employees flexible working arrangements.
So, if you are a hiring manager reading this, are you doing all that you can to attract and retain the best skilled candidates in the market?
And if you’re currently employed, is your company offering you everything you need to be fulfilled within your working life?