As the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions begin to cool down in the UK, many companies in the asset management industry are eager to bring employees back into the office and continue like before. However, most employees have adjusted to working remotely and no longer want to come back to the office five days a week, opting instead for flexible working arrangements.
At Berkeley Croft, we’ve seen an influx of candidates specifically asking for roles with flexible working. As such, to retain and attract talent, it’s vital to open up to flexible working. Otherwise, employers risk talent looking elsewhere.
Overview of the Issue
McKinsey reported that more than a quarter of employees would consider switching employers if their organisation returned to a full on-site work week.
The challenge for employers is how to implement flexible working arrangements that keep employees happy and safe. This not only benefits current employees but allows companies to tap into more diverse candidate pools and gain access to better candidates who are much more likely to want to work in a more flexible firm.
However, too few of them have shared detailed guidelines, policies or expectations for returning to the office. This lack of specifics and uncertainty about remote work leaves employees anxious about returning.
Candidate and employee requirements
The main requirement desired by employees and candidates is a safe working environment, which employers can achieve by following the government guidelines and tips above.
However, employers should consider whether vulnerable employees can take either stay working from home, take up an alternative role or change their working patterns temporarily to avoid close interaction with others or travelling during busy periods.
As many candidates are London-based and working in London offices, many will likely be travelling to work by tube. Employees may feel uncomfortable commuting during peak hours as the trains will be much busier, and social distancing becomes challenging, if not impossible. As such, in addition to offering flexible working days, consider allowing flexible working hours so that employees can commute in earlier or later to beat the rush.
Moving from WFH to working to the office can affect women disproportionately, for example, working mothers who require more flexibility. McKinsey also found that employees with children are much more likely to prefer working from home once the pandemic has ended. However, maternity leave policies have led to women finding it harder to progress in the workplace. Further strengthening the case for a flexible working approach where time is split between the office and at home.
Business expectations going forward
With over 50% of employees preferring to work from home for 3+ days a week in the future, businesses must look into making flexible work a possibility. And many are, including Google, with CEO Sundar Pichai expecting that “60% of Google’s staff will work in the office “a few days a week.”, another 20% in “new office locations” and the final 20% permanently working from home.
However, this isn’t to say all employees want to continue working from home as they’ve done over the pandemic. Many want to return to the office—especially junior staff members who are impacted development-wise by missing out on personal interactions with senior staff.
For returning to the office, businesses should make every reasonable effort to ensure their workplaces are safe for employees by following the government’s guidelines.
Initially, businesses should prioritise social distancing. This can be done by managing the occupancy rates of the building to avoid overcrowding. The layout of the office should be reviewed alongside the typical day-to-day processes to allow people to work further apart from each other. If rearranging workspaces isn’t possible, employees should be rearranged to work side-by-side rather than face each other.
Avoid hotdesking practises and instead assign working areas to an employee. However, with flexible working, there’s likely to be an overlap. For example, Employee A uses a desk on Monday while Employee B is off on Monday and uses the desk on Tuesday. As such, ensure that surfaces and equipment are cleaned and sanitised before and after usage.
Ensure to keep the office well ventilated as fresh air helps dilute the virus in occupied spaces. This can be done through open doors, windows, and vents, or a combination of all three.