The perfect storm of Covid and Brexit is continuing to shape the business landscape in a whole new way. Simultaneously, the green agenda is gathering momentum with some businesses showing incredible dedication and blazing a trail for others to follow as we all look to minimise our impact on the planet.
In the face of economic challenges, logistical difficulties and the ongoing pandemic-fuelled uncertainty, businesses are also looking at ways to improve their performance, whether that’s through automation, retention of talent through flexible working practices, improving working environments or perhaps through rethinking their own business models.
From purpose to performance, mental wellbeing to inclusivity, The Business Exchange has asked for your insights on 8 Business Trends for 2022. We are sharing these as a series of eight articles between now and the beginning of the New Year. Here we take a look at trend number three.
The days of the 9-5 office environment are over for many. There is no longer a ‘one-size-fits-all’ scenario as employers recognise the importance of a flexible approach in regards to staff retention and talent attraction. Embracing new models of working to help staff achieve a greater work/life balance and drive productivity will continue to be a theme throughout 2022 as companies adapt to the changing landscape and expectations from employees.
Sophie Austin, HR Partner at MHA Monahans has shared her thoughts on the subject.
“After a fully remote start to the pandemic, it became clear in 2021 – especially the latter half of this year – that the social interaction we usually receive at work was missed. Many struggled with feeling isolated and craved connection.
“Many employees and employers sought a compromise in the form of hybrid working which felt more balanced. While those days in the office could bring back a sense of camaraderie, greater collaboration and even fun that full remote working couldn’t fulfil, the other days from home enabled reduced travel time and costs, greater work/life balance, a continued level of safety from the virus and higher lever levels of productivity.
“Many employers experienced a huge widening of the talent pool thanks to a lack of restrictions around the geographical locations of candidates and a key acceleration of technology that, for some, was crucial to pull them out of the dark ages.
“As we look to 2022, I simply can’t envisage any employee being comfortable about a full return to the office, especially as the new variant has reared its head, showing that the pandemic is still far from over. Any employer considering this move must be prepared to lose staff to competitors who are more willing to meet the flexibility needs of their current staff and prospective candidates.
“However, employers will have extra challenges on their hands in 2022 – especially around the continuation of workplace culture, health and safety and communication. When the team is dispersed, potentially around the country, and must rely on technology to keep connected, there’s no denying that the impact upon organisational culture will be significant. Leaders must think cleverly about how to engage staff and maintain that feeling of ‘togetherness’.
“Even pre-Covid, MHA Monahans had an extremely flexible approach, supporting a range of individual working patterns. We have always wanted our team to feel able to manage their personal and professional commitments without stress or worry, ultimately ensuring that they feel that they have a fulfilling career and an employer that is supportive.”