A hybrid working arrangement? New coaching benefits? As the way we worked changed, so did the wishes of both candidates and employees. Recently, Undutchables hosted a webinar where job market experts Sarah Haïlé-Fida and Angela Fusaro shared their four lessons for work post-pandemic.
Lesson 1: People really can work from anywhere
During the pandemic, many employees suddenly ended up working from home. For companies who had never worked with a fully-remote or hybrid model, it became a period of adjustments and reinvention. “Obviously, we have learned during this pandemic that we can be productive and efficient working from anywhere, especially our homes, even when it’s messy, and it’s noisy”, said Angela Fusaro, career coach at Every Mother Knows.
According to a Chicago Booth survey, workers are approximately 7% more productive when working from home. Their survey showed 40% of workers reported they were more productive at home during the pandemic than they had been when in the office, and only 15% said the opposite was true. Overall, the researchers estimate overall worker productivity will increase by 5% as compared with the pre-pandemic economy.
Lesson 2: A work-life balance is essential
Although people can be productive from anywhere, there is a difference between thriving or just making something work. Preserving a healthy work-life balance presents an interesting challenge for employees and employers alike. “Setting boundaries has been a big challenge these days for many working professionals”, Fusaro said. “Because everything is blended and integrated working from home, so we need some sort of balance.”
“It’s a question of how and whether the company built a culture, or developed a culture, of accommodating everyone.”
That sentiment is echoed by Sarah Haïlé-Fida, work and recruitment consultant at Time2change and the French Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands. But according to Haïlé-Fida, that balance needs to be firmly outlined within the company culture. “I would say that it’s not a question of being in the office or working remotely”, she said. “It’s a question of how and whether the company built a culture, or developed a culture, of accommodating everyone. We don’t necessarily talk about the same thing when are talking about flexibility. To me, it all comes down to flexibility and trust.”
“I think that returning to the office will also help”, Fusaro adds. “But also be able to understand when it is important to switch off and to do something different. “Working parents have learned that the support they get at home can benefit their work, and vice versa. The support that they get from their employers at the workplace can also benefit their private and family life. A balance is so important.”
Lesson 3: Flexibility is key
Even before the pandemic struck, employee flexibility was steadily becoming an unmissable trend. “I think flexibility was already a topic before Covid-19, and I think in many instances the pandemic has just accelerated what we were seeing”, said Haïlé-Fida. “Even prior to the pandemic, 14% of employees in the Netherlands were already working remotely several days a week, whereas it was 6.6% in France and 5% in Germany.”
It seems companies, or at least the ad teams, are listening to what candidates want. “Every job ad I see in the Netherlands speaks about not wanting a ‘9-to-5 mentality’, but what does it really mean?”, Haïlé-Fida asked. “Does it mean that you have to be a self-starter? Does it mean that you have enough autonomy, so you can work on your own and be productive on your own? Or does it mean that you can be reached outside your working hours?”
“A company should first understand what it needs. That’s in terms of being in the office, working together, communication — and then see how they can accommodate every employee.”
“In my opinion, a company should first try to understand what it needs”, she said. “That’s in terms of being in the office, working together, communication — and then see how they can accommodate every employee. And how and what they can offer in terms of a split between being in the office, or working remote, or a combination of both. Because otherwise it’s like everyone can do what they want, but you don’t have a real culture within your company.”
Lesson 4: Employees care about benefits that ‘support their lives’
When we think of benefits, we tend to think of big bonuses and other financial rewards. But if the past two years have shown us anything, it’s that the finances become secondary amidst a global pandemic. “Nowadays employees are also looking for total reward benefits, which don’t have to do only with salaries and bonuses but can really have an impact on their life”, said Fusaro. “Think of: childcare, coaching and opportunities to connect to others.”
“We had a company that was offering French lessons to a Dutch candidate in the Netherlands so they can communicate better with headquarters.”
“I think training and the opportunity to develop and grow within a company is definitely a trend for candidates”, Haïlé-Fida added. “They ask more and more about what kind of training or what kind of growth they will be able to have within a company. For example: we had a company that was offering French lessons to a Dutch candidate in the Netherlands, so they can communicate better with headquarters.”