I was recently featured as a guest on an episode of the CX Files podcast. You can follow the link to listen to the entire conversation, but I wanted to highlight one of the key points that I discussed.
I explained to the podcast host, Mark Hillary, that there has been an epiphany around work-from-home (WFH) in many boardrooms because of the Covid pandemic. In fact, it could be argued that there has been an epiphany both for corporate executives and the workers who needed to continue their normal tasks from home.
On the corporate side, many companies found that they could continue operating with an entirely remote team. This has opened many eyes in management because there is the potential to reduce real estate costs and also hire from anywhere – if the office no longer exists as a single hub for all employees then you no longer need to restrict hiring just to those within commuting distance.
On the personal and employee side, there has also been some thought and analysis around jobs and employers. Many people have been re-evaluating what they are doing with their life. The pandemic has taken millions of lives across the world – very few of us have been unaffected in some way by this tragedy. In the US they are already calling this period â€˜The Great Resignationâ€™ – over 4 million Americans quit their job in April this year and vowed to do something better.
Many employees are reconsidering where they live. If remote working is possible then why live in a city centre? Why not live somewhere cheaper or even somewhere nicer, but usually impossible as an option – such as living by the coast far from a major city.
WFH has also demonstrated to many people that a better work/life balance really is possible. There was always a lot of discussion before the pandemic on this subject from business school academics and wellness coaches, but millions of regular employees saw for themselves that if they could forget about the commute and adopt more flexible hours then work really could fit around their own life and commitments.
This has led to an interesting dynamic. Companies are now seeing that WFH can allow them to be more flexible, especially around resourcing during busy periods, and employees appreciate the flexibility so that builds a greater level of trust and loyalty into the relationship. Employees are now exploring how to maintain some of this flexibility as we gradually see the economy and workplaces return to something closer to normal.
At SensÃ©e we can really sense that a change is taking place. We just announced 500 new jobs – all WFH positions. This is one of those nice business problems – we need to get hundreds of new people on our team as fast as possible.
More clients and prospective clients are asking about WFH customer care solutions and more people are interested in working in these positions because they have seen the flexibility that is possible and they want to maintain that lifestyle.
So what happens when companies just say that the UK restrictions are now over – everyone needs to get back into the office? I donâ€™t think itâ€™s possible to force your employees back any longer. They have experienced a different way of working that was productive both for the company and for the employees. Any change now needs to be in partnership with employees, rather than being a top-down decision.
Companies that start forcing old working practices on their employees will find that they force many of them out – they will search for new positions that allow them to earn a living and manage their commitments at home too. With so many WFH opportunities at SensÃ©e right now their loss will certainly be our gain.