Being fearful of Covid-19 is no longer.
For many companies, the transition into the Work-From-Home scheme has been fully achieved - after all, we had two years to prepare for that. Arrangements in the household have been accommodated by relevant services such as childcare, distractions for the kids or even the preparation of meals. People have largely become accustomed to this way of life - and how we are now in a sort of new-normal, where the virus is largely non-existent, or the consequences (after being vaccinated) is simply a quarantine order that can still be done at home.
More restrictions become obsolete and everything is eased. There is no more mask-wearing, no more dining-in limits and no more TraceTogether tokens. Do you think that companies will move back into the office? Well, personally, I think that will become a possibility, but this WFH scheme will not become obsolete.
There is a school of thought that if you lack the supervision in the office, your productivity would fall. To the people with this idea, then let me ask you this: did you really know what everyone was doing at every point in time back at the office? I dare say that the answer to that question is a resounding no - despite how you wish it was otherwise.
“But there will be abusers!” This arrangement is not immune from people who do that. But think for a second what I mentioned and how it actually applied to your previous arrangement - ever seen your colleagues skive? Exactly what I mean.
Many companies, largely MNCs, have become more flexible with the idea of a WFH scheme. Big names like Dropbox have started remote working and are set to make it a more common occurrence, even after the pandemic is over. These companies who operate across different time zones make sure that their employees have an overlapping period where different time zones can interact. Such an implementation provides an opportunity for people to collaborate without hampering opportunities to discuss and develop.
There is a lot of fog between the factors of what makes a company’s productivity great. It is natural that for a company to be successful, it has to appease the audience it is targeting. Yet, many managers seem to forget that their staff are not simple individuals that can be replaced. The industries of many that require working in an office are more than mundane skills but something that relies on empathy and trust to make work. To put it to you so it actually makes sense, the greatest factor that affects productivity and company morale is employee satisfaction.
What’s the deal with company satisfaction?
Things work better when you are happy, correct? The previous working arrangements had its perks. You get more opportunities to build cohesion and to discuss matters spontaneously (and perhaps more intimately). The issue however, is the time that falls beyond working hours. For most, travelling to work can be burdensome - especially when they take public transport. I never enjoyed the feeling of being cramped up inside the bus, not forgetting the days when it rains heavily. The transport time and emotions obtained may reduce the happiness of employees. This metric is invisible to the company because it does not fall within its working hours, or are things that they cannot control. Yet, the disruption that Covid-19 brought about has shown that perhaps such things can be within the control of the company.
The new normal means the possible prolonging of this WFH scheme, which means a new host of things that employers need to implement in order to ensure employee satisfaction. For starters, there should be lesser monitoring of an employee's movement. Your employee should know what is expected of them, and it would be reasonable enough for you to not eye them like a hawk. Trusting your employees can be something you do in order to enhance employee satisfaction. Next, other things such as not getting them to work beyond working-hours (unless for urgent matters) means they get time to themselves to recuperate and recharge, which would possibly translate to better productivity for you in the workplace.
Of course the list above isn't exhaustive, but there are so many things you can do in order to ensure that your employees are satisfied with their role in your company, and are feeling trusted. People work better with that in place.
How do I openly communicate what I want? Empathy is an important tool and it is what everyone needs to work on. The basic problem of commuting is dangerous for productivity levels, even when it seems so innocent. There are various things that anyone can do. For those who are at the managerial level, it would be wise to create a culture of feedback and a discussion of whether it is possible to be implemented. Understandably, some companies require physical interactions to work and perhaps prolonging or even implementing WFH is impossible. However, there can be other avenues you can take to better the working conditions and employee satisfaction of your workers. A reminder that these methods can go beyond financial-related avenues. Giving some time-off, or even talking to them like a normal friend can go a long way.
For employees, it would be good to be verbal about the issues that you face. It is not wise to hint subtly at the problems that you face or the things that you want because those at the managerial levels may well truly be oblivious to what’s going on. Leveraging on a good opportunity to discuss problems casually (or formally, if possible) can open up more rooms for discussion.
The whole idea of communication and asking for something that you require does not follow a cookie-cutter method, but it is a good way to start before you adjust your communication methods to fit your styles. Take the first step, you might be surprised at what you can achieve.