Before we start applying new ways of working post-Covid, It is important to make sure that the definitions line up. “Back to better” refers to getting back into a work environment after the pandemic that includes improvements and getting rid of negative traditions so that the new normal is even better than before. Meanwhile, a “hybrid work environment” simply means combining different ways of working and allowing for flexibility, be that in location, hours, or other areas.
Two unique perspectives
Recently, Undutchables’ Emmanuele van Houdenhoven got together with two other market experts to discuss trends and opportunities of the fast-approaching post-covid job market. Sarah Haïlé-Fida from Avenir-Emploi is a community builder. She helps expats find a job and get settled in the Netherlands, as well as working to strengthen connections between French companies and international workers.
Angela Fusaro from Every Mother Knows works with parents returning to the workforce after a parental break, and helps to create diverse and inclusive work environments. The niche market focus of both Fusaro and Haïlé-Fida brings a unique and helpful perspective to the conversation due to their close-up view of the market trends.
‘Working parents will be keen on a hybrid scheme’
One of the major issues companies currently revolves around a simple question: is it necessary to have people in the office? Are there times when you need all team members physically present or are digital meetings sufficient? “Most of the employees are looking forward to reconnecting to their office lives”, said Fusaro. “They have missed their colleagues and often a tidy desk, especially working parents.”
“I’ve seen that many working parents who used to work full-time, discovered the pleasure of being more present in their family lives.”
“But at the same time, organisations have learned that we can be productive while we work from home”, she continued. “Working parents will be keen on retaining some of that hybrid scheme. I’ve seen that many working parents who used to work full-time, discovered the pleasure of being more present in their family lives. Beyond the challenges, there is clearly some joy that they found. Those parents will want to keep that.”
‘It’s all about flexibility and trust’
When it comes to a broader strategy to retain talent and keep the workforce happy, much of the discussion revolves around flexibility and trust, Haïlé-Fida remarked. “For the candidate, flexibility will mainly be related to work-life balance. Can I arrive at the office a little bit later or leave a bit earlier because I have to take care of my children? It all comes down to the level of trust in the company – and the framework regarding flexibility and trust.”
“It’s not a question of being in the office or working remotely, it’s about whether a company has built a culture that accommodates everyone.”
For both organisations and employees, boundaries will be a key word moving forward. “You have to figure out your boundaries and expectations as an employer”, Haïlé-Fida added, citing freelancers as the perfect example. “Freelancers often know how manage their time and their relationship with work. If they don’t do it, they are working 24/7. It’s not a question of being in the office or working remotely, it’s about whether a company has built a culture that accommodates everyone.”
“Some people may want to work flexible hours and some may like the 9-5 schedule”, she continued. “With a diverse workforce you will discover that individuals have different needs and expectations, stemming from their personal situation, cultural norms, and many other factors. The best way to determine how you can work flexibly is to have the conversation with each employee and find out what people need. Then you can offer them the best, personalised option available within the working strategy and boundaries you have developed.”
“Communication will be the key in this process in order to lay out expectations from both sides and find the perfect combination of trust and flexibility”
And as soon as those boundaries and expecations are defined, the next step is communication. “Communication will be the key in this process in order to lay out expectations from both sides and find the perfect combination of trust and flexibility”, the expert say. “If you keep the conversation open you will be able to continue to find win-win situations that help your company and employees move forward and truly create a situation that is back to better.”
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