Not least , COVID-19 has opened a world of flexibility , allowing workforces from almost every sector greater opportunities to fit their jobs around their personal lives . It has been transformative for many , enabling those with
THERE SEEMS TO BE LITTLE EVIDENCE SUGGESTING THAT WORKERS HAVE BEEN LESS PRODUCTIVE SINCE HAVING THE OPPORTUNITY TO WORK MORE FLEXIBLY .
other responsibilities such as childcare or ageing relatives , much needed relief from working set hours week in , week out .
What have the effects of all the disruption had on productivity ? Surprisingly ( for some ), there seems to be little evidence suggesting that workers have been less productive since having the opportunity to work more flexibly . Quite the opposite . Flexible working and giving the employee the option to choose working patterns actually reduces the likelihood of staff burnout , cultivates a loyal , engaged workforce , boosts employee retention and morale . Job positivity is good for business , for productivity , as well as for profit .
Still – thanks to the success of the Coronavirus vaccine roll-out in the UK supporting the easing of lockdown restrictions – plenty of companies are looking at a return to ‘ normality ’ post-June 21 or possibly earlier . Yet this idea that our working lives could ( and should ) continue being more flexible is one that many will be keen to hold on to .
Who benefits ?
Before we think about getting back to ‘ normality ’, let ’ s take what we ’ ve learnt from the disruption of the pandemic and build on it . So , what can we do to ensure the advantages of more flexible working can continue post-pandemic ?
From an employment perspective , full flexibility and autonomy over working patterns , hours and pay , including being paid weekly for better cash flow , are all attractive benefits . For many , such as single parents , offering these benefits makes paid employment a viable prospect when otherwise government support would have been the only option .
Parents are certainly not the only demographic to benefit from flexible work . The labour force is changing , we now work until we are older more than ever before . And living longer than before , which means that more of us than ever are shouldering the responsibility of caring for elderly parents and relatives .
Plus , unprecedented numbers are working more than one job or running a small business as a side hustle , and simply don ’ t want to commit to a regular working pattern . These people have a lot to offer . The adaption of skills and inclusivity that creates an active , prosperous economy .
Build your own bank of staff
Agency workers are notoriously expensive and ineffective as new staff on site need to be trained and made aware of company policies . What people powered businesses , that depend on having enough staff members on the ground to get the work done , should be doing is looking to create an internal workforce or bank of staff . This internal workforce is available at short notice to fill shifts depending on workload and offers the best of both worlds as it keeps cost levels down and provides the business with a seamless backup , should they need it . For the workers it offers them the flexibility and ownership of their working hours that is so key for job retention .
Take the NHS for example , which must meet specific staffing levels 24 hours a day for each department and has traditionally relied on agency workers to ensure sufficient staffing numbers . But infilling shifts with agency workers is expensive . They found a solution in working alongside agencies and introducing a capped fee to ensure the costs are managed , while also driving the money saved back into building a bank of staff for each healthcare location to dip into . This allows the NHS to save money while also allowing the bank staff the same flexibilities as if they were working for an agency .
Dominic Raymont , National Workforce Deployment Lead , has led the NHS ’ s temporary staffing programme which has reduced agency cost by £ 1.2 billion ( a third ) in three years . Dominic recently joined me on my podcast , Shifts Happen , and explained how the NHS has used this model to reduce money and increase engagement .
He said : “ Agencies are really good at providing short-term staff into specialist roles and that ’ s really where we want to be working with the agencies . Where we buy-in lots and lots of staff from agencies , that is an area where some of them could be procured through banks which then gives that volume of staff available to the trusts and makes them less reliant on agency staff .”