The following is written by Rachel Crocker, senior project manager at London Market Group.
Working from home when we are thrown into the middle of a pandemic is one thing, but working from home as we adjust to living with an ongoing pandemic is a different kettle of fish.
Many of the everyday distractions that we found interrupting a standard working day have the potential to be removed now that we are starting to navigate the new normal. Childcare facilities will be opening up, children are returning to school, care homes are reopening, and gyms have welcomed us back; not to mention the social aspect of pubs and restaurants accepting our orders. The new working from home life has the potential to have far fewer distractions.
From a mental health aspect, lockdown has been rough, isolation has been tough and it’s showed more than ever how managers have to approach their employees with care. It has revealed a sensitive side to people and helped to improve relationships between colleagues, the ability to reach out to others and check in more than normal, to ensure that we are all coping with this new way of life. We have been presented with an opportunity to test and try new ways of working that we would never have had the opportunity to before.
Agile working has become a bit of a buzz word, I don’t mean agile in a sense of just working from home, but I mean the process of actually carrying out a task and finding the most effective way of working. It undoubtedly has a place in the future of our working world, and it might still be the biggest trick missed.
This could be the collaboration of the best skilled people for a task that might not necessarily be their normal day to day job role, or at a time and place that might not be traditional but could actually be the most appropriate and effective way of achieving something. In the middle of a pandemic we have found new ways of getting the task done, we’ve had to think outside the box to collaborate on ideas and also discovered new strengths that can be capitalised on to complete a task successfully.
But who is responsible for adopting and adapting to this concept? As we navigate the new normal post pandemic, it is our responsibility, not just as organisations and managers but as individuals, to help guide each other to what works best. I myself have learnt a lot throughout lockdown, about how I work and where my strengths lie, some were exceedingly obvious and with others I surprised myself, but it was the open and honest communication that I had with the rest of my team that enabled me to breakdown my strengths and carry out tasks that were actually well suited to my own skills.
We have been given an opportunity that we may never have again, and it’s worth grasping it with both hands to make sure we reap the benefits. It is easy to slip back into old habits, but it would be a real shame to only end up where we started. This pandemic has shown us that, as an industry, we are adaptable and can overcome change and take it in our stride.
Willis Towers Watson and the LMG have been able to collaborate on a piece of thought leadership which has brought people together through collaboration and discussion to look at what the new way of working will look like. Without a doubt there will be a blended approach of both working from home and working in the office. But we have also dug deeper into redefining job roles and hierarchal structures, which complements the concept of agile working. Are job roles dated and do they belong in the past? Should there be more fluidity around them that plays to our strengths and puts the right person with the right skills on the right task? This piece of work will be published at the end of September and we would welcome you all to take part in the discussion and consider the new takeaways.
In a nutshell, COVID has changed the workplace and it will continue to do so for some time to come, but it can be positive if we continue to move forward and welcome the change.