What Work Looks Like During the Pandemic; Flexible Work Models

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown businesses into a state of emergency! To survive, they’ve been forced to adapt and become resilient. Flexible work models that accommodate a number of locations and schedules are a necessity.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a type of work arrangement that provides a degree of versatility regarding how long, where, when and at what times employees work. It can be a formal contractual part of employment or an informal agreement between an employee and management on an ad-hoc or occasional basis. This approach to work is allowing people to access the labour market despite the pandemic. The following are some common forms of flexible working arrangements:

  • Home-working / Teleworking: Homeworking is where employees work from their homes rather than the office or a specific work location. Teleworking is defined as using information technology to enable an employee to work at any location from a cloud-based system or a hosted desktop. These arrangements require employees to be self-motivated, able to manage their own time, adept at setting boundaries between their work and their non-work activities and capable of dealing with some degree of social isolation. This type of work arrangement has increased dramatically during the pandemic.

  • Telecommuting refers to a job that’s remote only part of the time. Employees come into the office semi-regularly (i.e. one or two days a week). This generally requires that employees live locally. During the pandemic, businesses are using telecommuting to reduce the number of people in the office at any given time. 

  • Staggered hours involves allowing workers to choose their own hours within prescribed limits. With children, pets, homeschooling and sometimes elder care occupying workers during the pandemic, staggered hours ease the burden and allow employees to complete their work and home duties with less stress.

  • Compressed hours allow employees to complete their contracted hours in a reduced number of days. This often involves four long work days and a three day weekend. During the pandemic, this allows employees to establish a better work-life balance without a reduction in pay.

  • Adjusted shift rotations allow one group of employees to take over from another with practices in place that enable social distancing and reduced contact. This approach increases safety during the pandemic but does not allow employees to swap shifts or self-roster. 

  • Any 5 from 7 refers to opening a business/office seven days a week, allowing employees to work some of their hours on weekends thus reducing the number of people in the workplace at any given time. 

How to make flexible working models successful: 

Companies have been forced to adapt quickly to the effects and requirements of the pandemic. This can result in transitional difficulties. The following are suggestions for moving to flexible work models with as much ease as possible: 

  • Due to changes, employers may wish to seek legal advice on their plans and their organization’s specific contracts of employment.

  • Changes to working models may require a review of company policy and procedures.

  • Include trade unions or employee groups in discussions regarding change.

  • Managers should be briefed fully on the proposals/changes, including how to respond to employee concerns and questions.

  • Provide managers with guidance or training on supporting workers using a flexible work model.

  • Complement manager training with practical tools such as how to guides, case studies, process maps and standard forms.

  • Provide employees a way to ask questions and/or make suggestions.

  • Provide wellbeing support to all employees.

  • Identify employees who may be vulnerable and engage with them, either directly or by creating a group of employee representatives.

  • Provide guidance or training on maintaining an effective work-life balance. 

  • Ensure employees continue to take annual leave.

COVID-19 has pushed businesses into an unplanned experiment in flexible work models. These  work methods have allowed companies to cope with the ongoing issues relating to the pandemic while maintaining hygiene and social distancing. The challenges of these new models are real!  However, employers that use a flexible work model show their employees that they are concerned for their wellbeing, strengthen the employer-employee relationship and increase productivity and loyalty.

Struggling to find employees during the pandemic? Looking for a position during the COVID-19 crisis? Call the Calgary recruiting agency, Equation Staffing Solutions at 1-844-367-9618. We are a reliable, innovative, collaborative agency here to support you in your search for a position and/or personnel. Our experience will assist you! Contact us today.