There’s no doubt about it, the way we work has changed over the last few years.
Since the arrival of the Pandemic in 2020, companies of all shapes and sizes have had to adjust to new working patterns and new ways of managing teams, with one of the biggest challenges being having entire teams of people working remotely and communicating like never before.
Despite the challenges that this presented (and there were many), the working landscape has shifted. Now with the current cost-of-living crisis and the volatile political landscape, some of these changes look set to last for the long-term, as many business owners opt for a more flexible and cost-efficient approach to the operational aspects of their businesses, to secure their future stability.
We take a look at some of these changes, and explore what you as a business leader, can do to future-proof your business:
Teams are now working remotely or in a hybrid way
The introduction of remote and hybrid working has allowed businesses to take a more flexible approach to their operations. Many have been able to scale down the need for larger premises and other commitments, thus reducing overall operational costs. However, many leaders have had to learn completely new ways of managing and engaging with their teams to ensure productivity remains consistent.
For some business owners, the introduction of remote and hybrid working has been particularly challenging, as mindsets around office presence being linked to productivity have had to be shifted.
For many, the realisation that teams can be just as effective from a distance, has been hugely positive, whilst for others, the need to monitor and have greater visibility of staff has proved difficult. The introduction of hybrid working however, seems to have bridged that gap and provided a much-needed middle ground for all parties.
For employees, the introduction of new ways of working that don’t involve lengthy commuting times and costs, has allowed many to flourish and embrace these changes. However, for some working from home created a feeling of disconnection and isolation from the team and their role.
According to the Office of National Statistics in their February 2022 report, more than three-quarters (78%) of those who worked from home in some capacity said that being able to work from home gave them an improved work life balance. Half reported it was quicker to complete work (52%) and that they had fewer distractions (53%). Almost half also reported improved well-being (47%).
The introduction of the hybrid working model following the pandemic has been a welcome addition to the working environment, with the ability to find the balance between feeling connected with colleagues and the wider business, whilst still experiencing the benefits that can come from working remotely.
Companies are considering ways of working that are leaner and more cost-effective to ensure long-term stability and reduced financial risk.
In reality, this can look like recruitment freezes, pay freezes, opting for a reduction in overheads with smaller premises and other operational cost savings, including reductions in staffing costs.
Remote and hybrid working is a welcome middle ground to reduce costs but redundancies can still be an unfortunate side-effect of a businesses need to reduce costs, which in turn also places increased pressure on the remaining team members to pick up the slack and carry a greater workload.
On the flip side, with many companies reviewing their operations and choosing to find ways to work smarter rather than harder, businesses are having to be more flexible and adaptable.
Without the processes and communication in place to accommodate these changes, it can create confusion and uncertainty for teams at a time when the wider political climate and cost-of-living crisis is already creating economic uncertainty for many households.
Amidst all the uncertainty, there are still great opportunities for businesses to create the processes that support a leaner way of working and allow them to grow in a sustainable way, to survive the current economic challenges.
Challenges in recruiting as employees seek more flexibility and employers seek a reduction in costs, as a result of the global economic challenges.
Prior to the pandemic employees went into the office an average 3.8 days per week. Post covid this has reduced to 1.4 days per week. (BBC News)
Whilst offering a hybrid working model can aid recruitment, there is little information showing that it actually aids retention.
The hybrid way of working however does give employers access to a wider talent pool of highly skilled and experienced staff, however if you do not or cannot offer the hybrid working model then you may find it more challenging to find the right people as many people don’t wish to return to the ‘old’ way of working, and want more of a work-life balance.
What can be done to navigate these challenges and how can companies stay ahead of the curve, to accommodate these significant changes?
Three effective solutions to consider are:
Outsourcing is one of the most efficient ways to build a lean workforce, remain efficient and stay future focused. Many companies are now looking for ways to reduce headcount and keep overheads low, whilst still remaining effective and keeping up with the changes in technology. There are risks to every solution, but outsourcing team members or even company departments can be a really efficient way of keeping costs down, as well as tapping into expert knowledge and resources, without the additional overheads that come with hiring permanent employees.
Training / Coaching / Leadership Development
Many people become leaders and never develop the skillset required to engage and support their teams effectively. The result can be an increase in conflict, poor communication, a feeling of dissatisfaction among team members and a lack of clarity in terms of business / team goals and objectives.
Creating a leadership team that can drive the business into the future is an invaluable way of ensuring continued future stability and survival for your business. Investing in your leaders can come in many forms – here are just a few:
- Leadership training
There are of course many ways to develop your leadership team, however these three elements have been shown to have significant benefits for the individuals, teams and the business as a whole, ensuring you have competent leadership today and also for the future.
Offering your leaders, the opportunity to grow professionally through ongoing training and support, will not only enable them to lead effectively, but will create a happier and more fulfilling culture for all of your workforce. This can reduce staff turnover, increase job satisfaction and encourage loyalty, which in turn contributes to an organisation’s longevity and survival.
In order to keep up with changing economic and social landscapes, recruitment needs to be a top priority for any company in achieving their wider business mission. Without the right talent, your business risks stagnation and unfilled roles mean a risk of work falling through the cracks. However, recruitment can be an artform of its own.
Here are some tips to get you on the right track:
- Role profiling – look at the role you’re trying to fill and what’s needed to deliver it. What qualities does the right candidate need, what does the role really require, what experience should they have. Without the right profile, you’ll be shooting arrows in the dark and potentially missing out on great candidates in the process.
- Interview training – If you’ve never done any recruitment before or you’re out of practice, interview training can be a really great way of developing this skill. Understanding the questions to ask to find the right people, can make all the difference and prevent copious wasted hours interviewing the wrong candidates.
- Resource Planning – Recruitment can consume many hours of valuable resource time and when a company is already stretched, this can add significant pressure to already limited resources. A great way to remedy this is to think about resourcing for recruitment in advance. If, when you look at your resources, you realise that it’ll take too much time away from the business, consider outsourcing your recruitment to an HR Consultancy who can support you not only with the interviewing process, but also with creating an end-to-end recruitment process that supports your business not just with identifying suitable candidates, but also onboarding them effectively so that they’re connected with the company from day one.