Flexible Working in Spaces & Places

Our Marketing & Events Officer Caitlin Auld, wrote a piece this week for SCVO's Third Force News as part of their #NeverMoreNeeded campaign. Here's a chance to check it out!

Spaces & Places

There is a palpable feeling that this point of 2020 is more akin to our previous normal way of life. People are off on holidays, schools will soon be back to normal, we can go to our favourite restaurants again, but where does that leave work?

For those of us who earlier this year became guinea pigs in the biggest ever working from home experiment, we’ll remember the initial sigh of relief at not enduring the daily 7.45am commute in a damp, cramped train carriage. Money was saved on lunches and despite childcare issues, 68% of home workers felt their productivity increased. Working from home became a real, viable option to organisations that had never embraced this version of flexibility before.

However, the narrative over the past week or two has really highlighted a shift in people’s attitudes to this way of working. We are human beings, and the lack of real-life human interaction, no matter how trivial, is sorely missed. Musing over last night’s Netflix viewing is something that cannot be replicated over pre-planned Zoom calls no matter how well intentioned they are. For non-essential home-workers, one thing is becoming apparent – many of us miss the office!

The best of both worlds

So how should Scotland’s third sector organisations move forward in a way that harnesses a best of both worlds paradigm. The starting point is to consult with staff and listen to their needs. Surveying or making time for one-to-ones can give an overall consensus to what people are feeling, and highlight any real need to make tracks to traditional work settings. Paradoxically, there may be staff who feel they are simply not quite ready to go back to office life as usual but want to in the long-run. Communication really is key and listening is a sure-fire way to create engaged staff.

Caitlin Auld

The third sector is, of course, well versed in doing things on a shoestring, but the challenges that Covid has presented to the bottom line may mean a shift in approach to office life. On an operational level, decisions may have to be made regarding place of work and overheads. Perhaps downsizing would be sensible but first comes design of working patterns. Would it make sense to buy into hub meeting spaces rather than a city-centre mothership? This could be a great opportunity to develop these resources in regional communities, creating a boom for smaller, local economies at the same time. There are also green-friendly upshots to this in terms of office energy use as well as carbon emissions from transport.

How Flexibility Works...Works!

Flexibility Works is a fledgling social enterprise. We opened our doors just after the pandemic struck so all we know so far is remote working – something we are of course all very comfortable with. The flexible nature of our organisation plays a huge part in ensuring we can meet the demands of our non-paid work responsibilities.

Before coronavirus, we worked together on a previous project and physically met all together one day a week. Being together on a Monday allowed us to kick-start our week with team meetings, project planning and of course catch ups about the latest Netflix craze. The rest of our working week was a blend of office days, home working days and non-working days.

But one size doesn’t fit all. A small, central, collaborative hub works for us but may not be the answer for other organisations. And place of work is just one piece of the overall flexible working jigsaw puzzle, which also includes condensed hours, reduced hours, increased hours or weekend working. Now is the right time as an organisation to be looking at all of these and discussing them with your staff, so that planning optimal use of work space and place can begin.

Recent research revealed that 13 million people across the UK plan to ask their employer for changes to their long-term working pattern once the current coronavirus pandemic has subsided. The onus is on organisations to embrace the benefits of exploring new options, ensuring their people are kept at the heart of what they do.

Let's find out how the experts do it!

This month we are excited to host an online session dedicated to this important topic. Flexibility Works Live: Spaces & Places takes place via Zoom on Thurs 20 August and will be packed with insights from the experts. Join us at this free event to find out how business leaders such as Andrew Dobbie of creative agency MadeBrave has mastered this hybrid approach to home and office working as well as a top organisational psychologist who can detail the best employer practices in navigating this time.

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