I don’t think anyone would argue that the current situation has thrown a huge curveball to how we live, work and play, even at leading IT service provider Clovertec! Whilst a large proportion of the workforce were already juggling their work and home lives, with many having to cope with the day to day challenges of looking after children – and in some cases, elderly parents too – now that we are living under the unprecedented measures of lockdown, these challenges have been amplified. And even as we start to see some easing of the lockdown, no one is sure about how quickly things will return to normal, if at all.
For some, the ability to work from home has been something of a revelation, with no more daily commute, no more endless rounds of tea and coffee making, and no more traffic jams. But for others, it has been a frustration that is difficult to deal with. Being in a home setting with children and dependants can be a distraction for getting work done, and the fact that you are in the house when usually you are at the office could lead others in your household to assume that you’re available for them.
Whether you love it or hate it, many believe that a regular home working regime by a significant proportion of people was inevitable and would eventually become the new norm for employees. However, what we have seen as a result of the lockdown being imposed was a turbocharging of this arrangement. Now, many companies have introduced flexible working hours and remote working into their contracts of employment – and we may even see these working practices enshrined in law so that all employers must comply.
In my own personal experience, I have to say, there was an initial mix of emotions and reactions. Panic? Celebrate? Grieve that I am not going to see my co-workers in person and go for our weekly Nando’s ritual? Embrace the freedom of the daily commute? Marvel at being set free from the morning hysteria? Crack open the Sauvignon Blanc? Honestly, I did all the above.
However, I suppose I have the privilege of working for a forward-thinking IT service provider, which meant I was set up for working from home from my very first day. Everything was put in place, including a laptop, cloud computing and even a softphone. And of course, I am lucky enough to have some of the best IT experts in the industry as colleagues (shh, don’t tell them!) who could help out with any difficulties I might have had. “Embrace the new normal!”, they say. Well, that’s all very well and good, especially if, like me, you work for an IT service provider. But how do you keep a sense of routine when uncertainty is all around you?
Back in early 2014, I was a mature student completing the final year of my BSc Management at the University of Leeds. Ironically, my dissertation (which I might add achieved a First for!) was a study of professional women and the usage and influence of mobile technology on the infamous work-life balance. Bear with me, I promise I’m not going to bore you with the finer details. But what I essentially found was that whilst we need to embrace the technology we have at our fingertips and exploit it, more importantly, we need to use it to connect with our peers and our employers – and we certainly shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help and guidance during this unprecedented time.
I personally believe that once employers have seen that staff can be just as productive, or possibly even more productive when working remotely, they will accept the fact that flexibility of location and working hours can have a positive impact on business – and that’s when they will then be able to embark upon creating techniques to keep remote employees engaged and productive.
My advice? Find your new normal; it’s not necessarily going to be easy. I consider myself fortunate that my children have mostly flown the nest. I have three children, a 26-year-old daughter who works in a bank, an 18-year-old son who is doing me proud as a Grenadier Guard in the British Army, and then there’s my youngest daughter at 16 who is an avid Rugby League Player and currently plays for a Super League Club academy u19’s team. She’s actually supposed to be sitting her GCSE’s this summer, but let’s face it, that’s a whole different blog. Oh, and currently, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic I am also looking after my father-in-law who has taken up residency in the spare room (at this rate he will have squatters rights).
Remote working WILL become the new normal, and I for one believe that flexible working hours that allow you to get the job done within your personal time and parameters will undoubtedly result in happier employees. And as we know, happier employees make for a more productive and more loyal team! For more advice on remote working and how an IT service provider such as Clovertec can help you find your new normal, contact us today.
Finance Manager, Clovertec.