June 3, 2020
The importance of flexible working during COVID-19
After many weeks of staying at home, countries around the world have gradually begun to ease their lockdowns, moving us one step closer to ‘normal life’ as we know it. This means that as more employees return to their offices, businesses will need to provide increased flexibility to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to – and that they’re doing everything they can to keep their staff and visitors safe.
If you’re one of the businesses that have been able to let your staff work from home during this time, there are a number of changes you should make to the workplace before they return – and in some parts of the world, this might not be for another few weeks. With social distancing set to be the norm for some time, implementing a one-way system in your building, increasing the distance between seating, installing screens between desks, and having fewer members of staff working in the same office at one time are just some of the ways you can ensure that essential guidelines are being met to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
However, continuing to provide flexible working options to your employees (even as the world reopens) will also help you to adhere to social distancing requirements and keep your workforce healthy. Most importantly, it will also help them to feel safe and supported during this uncertain time.
Here are some of the ways you can offer more flexibility as we edge closer to normality…
Allow flexible working hours
With new social distancing guidelines allowing fewer people to be in the same room at one time, making your business’s working hours more flexible can be extremely helpful for minimizing prolonged contact between staff, while still enabling them to feel like a team by seeing their colleagues. With it being advised that people should avoid using public transport during peak times and some places around the world restricting the number of people who are allowed on a bus or train at one time, extending your office hours beyond the typical 9-5 can also take a great degree of stress off your employees.
If you work from a smaller office, flexible working should also be extended to lunch breaks to help ensure everyone is able to keep an adequate distance – especially if you’re not located near public parks or other outdoor spaces. Planning and establishing when everyone is working in advance is also vital for ensuring that there is as little overlap as possible. To keep things fair, however, you should talk to your employees about the days and times they would prefer to work, as personal circumstances such as their distance from work and whether they drive or need to use public transport are likely to have an effect on this.
Offer remote working opportunities
Alongside flexible working, you should also be giving your employees the opportunity to work from home wherever possible. Just because many businesses are gradually reopening their doors, it doesn’t mean that the world has completely reverted back to ‘normal’ as of yet. With schools remaining closed for many students and vulnerable people still being advised to stay indoors as much as possible, allowing employees the flexibility to continue to work from home when needed will help them to take care of extra responsibilities they have during this time, such as caring for a loved one.
With many of us having worked from home for the past few months, your staff should be well equipped with the tools to make this transition as seamless as possible. As well as encouraging them to use video conferencing software to catch-up with their team on either a daily or a weekly basis, cloud-based work management software, like Ayoa, can help by giving teams a space to keep track of shared projects and collaborate together – wherever they’re working from. With files, images, comments, and other information relating to a project being stored online in the Ayoa app, teams can easily access everything they need from any location – whether they’re at home or in the office.
Encourage virtual meetings
Although video calls were once a daunting experience for many, the rise in remote working and restrictions being placed on meeting family and friends from different households have meant these have become a lifeline for many of us over the past few months. As they’re the closest substitute to face-to-face contact, video calls have been the perfect replacement for date nights, meals with friends, pub quizzes, and of course, work meetings. In the past few months, Zoom, the popular video conferencing software, has become a household name beyond office workers, with their daily average users exceeding 200 million in March.
One of the easiest ways to adhere to social distancing measures and stop the spread of the virus is by limiting the number of people who visit your premises. So, if your business relies on meetings with clients, keeping these virtual should still be your favored option going forward – or if you would rather meet face-to-face, choose to meet them outdoors, in an open space. Even if your business offers services such as training or coaching events, these can also be conducted virtually through such platforms. In fact, you may even find that more people sign up for these as they no longer need to travel to attend!
Want a work management tool that allows you to offer full flexibility for your team? Ayoa combines Mind Mapping, Task Management, and Instant Messaging so teams can work seamlessly together, no matter where they’re located. Whether you want to brainstorm great ideas, keep track of project deadlines, or simply have a chat with your teammates, Ayoa keeps everything you need in one central location, and it can be accessed whenever – and wherever you’re located. Get started for free today.
If your business is located in South Wales, Ayoa’s home of Tec Marina near Cardiff has a number of offices available for those that are returning to work. Boasting plenty of bright open spaces, regular cleaning, and 24/7 access to the building, it is the perfect location to help you offer flexible working and ensure your employees adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visit the Tec Marina website to find out more.