SOLVE magazine Issue 03 2021 | Page 9

Domestic abuse One of the dark sides of the pandemic has been an increase in domestic abuse . The UK and many other countries have seen a sharp rise in domestic violence as a result of lockdowns , with technology often harnessed by abusers to control , stalk and intimidate .
Portsmouth Law lecturer Dr Victoria Hooton hopes the pandemic will be an agent of change in making employers more aware of employees ’ welfare needs . She says there is a role for employment law and workplace policies to address domestic abuse through mechanisms such as mental health leave for survivors .
This would be an important recognition of the nature of this type of trauma .
“ The emotional fallout of something that is really traumatic may not be in the immediate aftermath . You may have quite a significant period of brain resilience where you ’ re blocking out what you ’ ve experienced . It needs to be reflected in employer policy , but also perhaps in stronger legislation that requires employers to have this kind of policy ,” she says . “ Leaving it to employers will cause disparity depending on what kind of work a woman does . A comprehensive package of support for such survivors is really important .”
What we need is a more humanistic understanding of what other people are going through , in terms of getting to work , finding space to do their work and being able to carry out their work effectively and ensuring that employees are adequately supported . – Dr Emily Yarrow
Blue-sky thinking As Director of Business Development in Portsmouth ’ s Faculty of Business and Law , Peter Hooley has a front-row seat to the post-pandemic office . And what he has seen is cause to celebrate a more flexible workplace .
“ The impact has been almost diametrically opposing . On one hand , it ’ s liberating people to be able to work efficiently and effectively around their personal lives , while at the same time terrifying managers who are not used to trusting people to work outside .”
While some leaders and managers comforted by seeing team members each day in the office may have to readjust , Mr Hooley believes they should seize the opportunity to create a happier and more productive workforce .
“ They ought to realise that flexible workers can be really productive … sometimes even more productive than office workers because they ’ re not tied into a routine . There ’ s an opportunity to be that kind of trailblazing firm that says , actually , I want to take real advantage of this situation and , through my team , beat my competitors .”
A trap to avoid , particularly in larger organisations , is the one-size-fits-all policy .
“ I hope the pandemic will bring about balance and an environment that is dynamic enough to accommodate people ’ s individual working practices ,” he says . “ It comes down to leadership , which is about getting your team together to face up to who needs to do what . And above all , make it fair .”
ISSUE 03 / 2021