Flexibility has become the buzzword of 2020. With all the lockdown rules, location restrictions, and just general safety concerns worldwide, everything’s felt more than a little restricted. It’s no wonder that, moving forward, people are prioritising flexibility at work and home above everything else.
For a lot of us, lockdown has provided us with some perspective and the opportunity to prioritise what we want out of life and what’s important to us. Whether it’s needing a garden, spending more time with the children, or being in an area closer to other friends and family, we’ve all taken a moment to reassess what we’re currently missing.
It’s natural, if you haven’t been allowed something for a while, you start to crave it - think about when you tell yourself you’re not allowed cake and suddenly that’s all you can think about. Flexibility has become top of most people’s list, even if it’s just having one day a week at home or being able to work from a different space for a different perspective. And that’s what this pandemic has been for a lot of people: a chance to take a different perspective. We needed to reassess how we did things. Increasing numbers of people were getting burnt out, stressed and contending with poor mental health as a result of the rigid way in which we work. Things needed to change, and although a global pandemic was a bit extreme, it gave us the opportunity to realise that there’s perhaps a better way.
This doesn’t mean that you should sell all your office space and relocate to a co-working space in Bali. It means you need to be able to give your people a choice. We’ve come to realise that not all people work productively in the same way - shocking we know - and it actually benefits the team to have these different work styles collaborating together within one single team. It comes back to getting these different perspectives to build a fuller, more successful big picture.
In order to get the most out of your team, we’ve always known that you have to play to the strengths of the individual. If a team member is more productive at home than in the office, and can do their job remotely, why would you insist that they come in? You’re not playing to their strengths and if you do this across the whole team, you’re preventing your team working to their fullest capacity. That’s just bad management.
Flexibility has long been considered a perk, up there with childcare vouchers and cycle to work schemes, but this remote working experiment has proven that flexibility needs to be given as standard to get the most out of all of your team members. Some might not need it or want it, but it’s all about giving your people a choice to do what works for them, so they can work more effectively for you. We now have the infrastructure in place, there’s no excuse and moving forward, you will miss out on top talent if you don’t offer some sort of flexibility.
Everyone’s priorities have come sharply into focus over the past four months, and to be competitive you need to get on board. Flexibility is not a perk anymore, it’s a necessity, and one that as a manager, you should be invested in providing. Playing to your team member’s strengths is a vital part of being a great leader - flexibility is a crucial part of that.