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How a business can benefit from a flexible working culture

12 Mar 2021

The majority of HR managers believe that the shift to remote and flexible working around the world in 2020 has created a new culture of ‘e-presenteeism’.

Presenteeism is a major health and wellness issue that is a symptom of the old ways of working.

On the one hand, it’s when employees feel anxious about ‘proving’ that they’re working just by being present — rather than what they’re achieving.

On the other, it’s when employees feel pressured into working, even when they’re feeling ill.

According to a report published by CNBC pre-COVID, 90% of employees say they have gone to work ill in the past. Of those, 54% said they went to work because they felt they had too much work to do and couldn’t afford to take a day off.

In the last year, we’ve all been presented with an opportunity to rethink how we work, focusing more on productivity and being flexible in how and when we expect employees to be available as our personal lives become more entwined with our working lives.

Changing company culture

With COVID-19 forcing many to work remotely or from home, businesses are rethinking company culture.

Now, it’s about creating an environment that promotes better health and wellness through flexible and remote working options for those who want them.

It’s also about changing how we think about productivity and trusting employees to get the job done, even if they’re not fitting work into the ‘regular’ 9-5.

We saw during the pandemic how businesses became more secure with allowing employees to work more of their personal lives around work and get tasks done earlier or later in the day.

For example, taking time out in the day for homeschooling their children or carrying out tasks for relatives who may have been self-isolating.

No more 9-5

Providing more training and support for learning opportunities (77%), supporting flexible working hours (77%) and promoting employee wellness and mental health (76%) are all going to become more important to find or retain staff in the future, according to our Future Ready Report.

This matches the expectations of the current and future workforce; they increasingly expect flexible working hours and the right tools for the job as standard.

Flexible working can also open up the talent pool to a broader range of people, such as parents who may be looking to go back to work but aren’t able to commit to rigid hours. Similarly, some expect businesses to have the technology in place to support hybrid working, allowing them to log on wherever, whenever.

This can help improve diversity in the workplace and drive better results for companies.

COVID-19 presented the opportunity for companies to experience whether their company could incorporate remote and flexible working effectively

And employees stepped up.

Now businesses need to invest in long-term planning and technology to build better connections for a flexible workforce, not one that sits at a desk from 9-5.

We caught up with Drees & Sommer to find out how technology helped support its consultancy team to work more flexibly in the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drees & Sommer: Keeping the conversation going

Agile working of the future

Agility is the currency of tomorrow’s business world.

By trusting employees to do what they do best, companies can focus on investing in the tools and technology that allow employees to complete their work in a way that suits them, rather than expecting them to mould their personal lives around a rigid work environment.

Part of that is creating a working environment that removes stress and anxiety.

Our Future Ready Report provides some insight into how businesses are dealing with this transition.

For example, 77% expect the importance of training, technology and flexible working hours to grow in importance, 94% expect to address at least one of these issues through investing in new technology.

By empowering employees to be more flexible with their work by investing in better technology, and developing a new culture that promotes new ways of working, businesses can start to challenge the issues of poor employee health and wellness in the workplace.

Whether it’s helping employees reduce the pressure to work when they’re ill, or providing them with the tools they need to work however and whenever they want, businesses can be better prepared for a healthier future.

Ready to find out more? Discover how you can align your tools and processes to enhance your flexible working culture.

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