The existence of Covid-19 has brought change globally, including our work model. Since the first Movement Control Order (MCO) took place in Malaysia, many companies have allowed their employees to work from home for safety purposes.
The Prime Minister has announced that offices can operate at 100% capacity if all employees are fully vaccinated. But, it seems that Malaysian employees want to continue remote work after the pandemic.
A survey from Randstad found that 69% of respondents in Malaysia prefer to continue working from home until the Covid-19 vaccine has been distributed. The number is the highest compared to Singapore (67%), Mainland China (45%) and Hong Kong SAR (48%).
As the world starts to return to normalcy, some employers are eager to bring their employees back to the office. If you’re one of them, it’s best to shift your traditional work model to new policies and working arrangements.
To give you some ideas, these are what employees want post-pandemic:
Flexible Work Model
Your old working model isn’t going to be the same post-pandemic. After working from home for more than a year, employees are getting comfortable with flexibility.
They’re able to manage their personal commitments with work schedules. They have more time for their family or themselves instead of being stuck in a traffic jam.
In short, employees value work-life balance even more. They’re hoping that you’ll adopt a flexible work model for post-pandemic work that allows them to remote work and come to the office simultaneously.
In my previous article, I’ve shared that employees can be productive working from home when you trust them and focus on the results instead of the process.
If a flexible work model suits your business model, go for it. The new work model has become the ‘bacon’ to attract talents. The last thing you want is your employees to switch jobs just because you refuse to adopt it.
Feeling safe returning to the office
We can’t force people to take the vaccine. But, the company is responsible for ensuring the safety of its employees.
Are all your employees fully vaccinated? How many of them are comfortable returning to the office? Is the office sanitized regularly?
These are some of the things that you need to address. You may want to create training materials on safety precautions and spread awareness to all employees. By doing so, they’ll feel safe as they know everyone is following the same procedures.
Moreover, cohorting method is the best approach for post-pandemic work. Here’s how it goes:
First, split your employees into groups. Then, have them work at the office with rotating schedules. If one of them tested positive, the whole group went into quarantine.
Be fair when deciding who works remotely
Raffaella Sadun, one of the founders of the World Management Survey and the Executive Time Use Survey, believes that deciding who get to remote work after the pandemic is very challenging as work from home holds different meanings to different people.
Leaders need to avoid any possible conflicting views about flexible work models (the rotating schedule, how many days in a week employees must come to the office, etc.). When differences in opinion aren’t managed well, it may result in a higher turnover.
Therefore, it’s best to be proactive, take note of employees’ preferences and explore different approaches when adopting a flexible work model.
Boris Groysberg, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration, advises leaders to lead with kindness.
The pandemic has changed all of us. People will definitely have mixed reactions in post-pandemic work. Your employees will likely have personal challenges that prevent them from giving full attention to their job.
Some of your workforces may still experience mental health issues, mourn for the loss of their loved one or face financial problems.
Thus, it’s important for managers to show compassion. Be an active listener, check on your employees, offer support, acknowledge their efforts and thank them wholeheartedly.
Put mental health as one of the top priorities
The pandemic has brought mental health to focus. Depression can happen to anyone, including those who look “fine”. They may be healthy and have a stable income but are struggling mentally.
A survey conducted by YuLife, a lifestyle insurance company, found that 87% of employees are more likely to stay with employers who look after their well-being.
There are some ideas to care for your workforce:
- Conduct meditation workshops
- Adopt mindfulness breaks
- Regular surveys on their mental health
- Book appointments with therapists (additional benefit)
Having a company that prioritises mental health is what employees look for in post-pandemic work.
Being recognized and rewarded
People dislike changes because it brings uncertainty, especially when they’re used to working from home. Returning to the office can be stressful for your employees. They may risk their health and fear spreading the virus to family members.
You can help reduce their anxiety by celebrating small wins, giving rewards and encouraging peer-to-peer recognition. These approaches would make employees feel recognized, appreciated and cared for.
The pandemic affects a lot of businesses. From closures, redundancies, shifting of responsibilities and many more. Some employees may experience temporary salary cuts, take extra responsibilities or feel like their career has stalled.
Others may hold onto their role and perform better during the pandemic. Unfortunately, they miss out on promotions, bonuses or salary increments.
All of these would lead to employees feeling there’s no opportunity to grow so they start looking for a new job. To prevent this, you may want to conduct workshops and training to upskill your workforce.
To conclude, I believe being thoughtful to your employees’ needs is the key to creating a work environment and culture that they want post-pandemic.