Thanks to Nicola Campbell, Human Resources Specialist from Bell & Co for this weeks blog.
When NZ went into lockdown to respond to Covid-19 hitting our shores, what had previously been an ideal “possibility” of working from home became a reality for many. The reality of juggling work with bubble life meant that many people also started working ‘flexible’ hours – swapping ‘shifts’ and responsibilities for child minding and home schooling with another adult in the bubble.
Although the right to request flexible working arrangements had been available to employees in NZ for more than 10 years, suddenly everybody was working ‘flexibly’ as a matter of necessity rather than choice. So what did we learn from that?
Flexible Working policies typically provide for employees to work at either times or a location other than the norm for a workplace. This might be actual hours or days of work, a 9 day fortnight or working from a location other than the office or workplace – usually an employee’s home.
Under ‘forced’ working from home conditions many people enjoyed the flexibility of working at times that suited them, the benefits of time saved by not commuting, and the freedom of being able to wear much more casual clothing. People were quick to adopt and happy to use technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom to meet their colleagues and conduct business.
On the other hand, there was a level of intensity about work that seemed different than being in the office or face to face with colleagues and customers. And for many, work became a distraction – or even an obsession – because it was just so easy to turn on the laptop and check emails. It was hard to escape. Many people didn’t have an ideal office set up and the novelty of working from the kitchen table quickly wore off.
9-5 working days may no longer be ideal or even relevant for many workplaces and technology has been enabling us to work at all times and from almost any place, for a long time now. We proved through our quick response and our typically Kiwi adaptability that working flexibly is possible. We proved that flexible working is relevant for modern workplaces. Now, with the benefit of that experience, businesses looking to introduce or update their flexible working policies can consider all the benefits and the downsides of flexible working options. A well thought out flexible working policy will benefit staff, the business, and customers and include lessons learned from lockdown. For more advice or assistance on any employment related matters, please contact Bell & Co or leave your details below and we can put you in touch with them.