The corona pandemic has permanently changed all of our private- and work lives. And while flexible working hours and the possibility of working from home are nothing new in political consulting, numerous other questions about working together within the company arise in the context of New Work, especially as a result of the pandemic. How can we ensure that we communicate with each other remotely so that we coordinate our work as well as possible?
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(*Team Lead at hbpa until 2022)
What do employees need in order to be able to work as well as possible under pandemic conditions? What does our everyday work look like after the pandemic? And how do we ensure that with all the advantages of New Work and flexible working, interpersonal relationships are not lost? As a smaller company in the industry, we in particular have given this topic a lot of thought over the past year and initiated concrete changes. In doing so, we have come to some important conclusions:
1. The Home office: The place of work has changed fundamentally for many people with office jobs during the pandemic. In what is now the third year of the pandemic, many are spending at least part of their working hours at home and working remotely. In a survey by the auditing and consulting firm EY, 81 percent of all respondents said they wanted to work at least partially remotely in the future. Many employers therefore have to adapt to significant changes in their work processes if they want to remain attractive to employees. At the same time, it must always be ensured that working remotely works just as well as in the office. And perhaps even more important: Employees must still feel as part of a team remotely, because the home office can, of course, also be isolating.
2. Creativity and personal exchange: What is not always easy in mobile and hybrid work is interpersonal exchange. Not all employees are present in the office at the same time (which would also not be acceptable under pandemic conditions!), and therefore there are, of course, no small conversations inbetween or brief exchanges on current developments. This cannot be represented or replaced remotely in the same way, which is also an important lesson for the post-pandemic period. Here, fixed office days or a weekly exchange in person could be a solution that still allows flexibility for everyone.
3. Flexible working hours: Of course, New Work also includes flexible working hours. According to the above study, 78 percent of those surveyed believe that, in ten years they will be able to organize their working hours with full flexibility. In the medium term, an industry such as public affairs consulting needs a middle ground. Politically specified appointments, which take place during the day but often also in the evening, must be observed in the interest of the customer. But it is also true that flexibility makes sense for both employers and employees. We have introduced an individually usable overtime regulation that can be used flexibly in consultation. Ultimately, there is a solution for everything.
4. An open work culture: One of the most important aspects of New Work for us is the work culture. This can include a variety of things, but one thing is certain: a good culture that is practiced every day cannot simply be established with a handful of short measures. Instead, the culture must grow and requires the willingness and cooperation of everyone involved. As an employer, however, you can support this process with a variety of measures that go beyond the “fruit basket”, so famous in the agency world. For us, this includes regular team events and celebrating birthdays together, but also the development of structured HR. This ranges from professional onboarding and digital training to regular feedback meetings. It is crucial to know that there is always someone that the employees can turn to and with whom small and large questions or problems can be resolved together. Clear structures are extremely helpful here, especially in times of remote work, as is a clear contact person. The end result is a strong team in which everyone is able to rely on each other!
Conclusion: New Work will always be a process that will most likely never be fully accomplished within a company. New requirements always bring forth new solutions. It is clear that the pandemic has permanently changed the world of work. It remains to be seen what further new possibilities the future holds. Against the background of a shortage of skilled workers and demographic change, however, it must be said that, in the end, the most important thing is a strong team!