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WORKING FROM HOME BENEFITS Featured
11 June 2020 Posted by 

WORKING FROM HOME BENEFITS

"Job crafting" in a post COVID -19 world
DALLAS SHERRINGHAM
A FRIEND of mine is a Business Analyst with a leading financial organization and he has is now working from home permanently after the COVID-19 pandemic forced a massive change in the way Australia operates.

Wayne M. works from home in Acacia Gardens where he lives with his wife and two preschool children in a modern four bedroom home on a large block. His wife owns business but works only part-time.

Wayne’s job involves working many staff, associates and clients both in Australia and overseas.

“Everyone is online now and I can do my job from the North Pole if I can get a phone connection,” he said. Wayne says he uses teleconferences to commute with work colleagues and because he deals with India, the UK and the USA he needs to work flexible hours.

“It’s no longer a 9 to 5 lifestyle. I can work my hours around the kids and quite often I get on the computer in the evening and finish my work for the day.”

The positives are obvious to Wayne. “I don’t have to do the three hour commute into the city anymore which means wife work-life balance is much better  and my productivity has definitely improved,” he said.

“Communications are much better with short, sharp meetings and less meaningless dialogue which is a problem with face to face staff meetings.

“But when I need to go to office for  a meeting day, I simply book a meeting room which is equipped with all the mod cons and away we go.’

Wayne said the staff at company had the choice of working from home or in the office, but overwhelming majority now work from home.

“They are just a phone call, email or message away, but a lot use Skype to connect.”

Wayne said a key factor in working from home was the introduction of Microsoft Office 365 which allowed workers to log on to any device securely worldwide.

So, flexible work and working from home definitely is the way to for people like Wayne, but it doesn’t suit everyone or every business, especially they have to be involved in face to face activities like service industries.

But the pandemic lockdown has certainly shown that many more people could successfully work from home, improving their family life and their approach to their work.

Flexible work has always been a drawcard for employees, but while managers have typically been reluctant to embrace flexible work arrangements, University of South Australia researchers warn that the topic is likely to become front and centre as employees return to the office after months of lockdown from COVID-19.

Human resource management experts, UniSA’s Professor Carol Kulik and Dr Ruchi Sinha said organisations should be prepared to discuss alternative work arrangements.

“COVID-19 forced people to work from home under the worst possible conditions – it was done in a rush, it was done across the board, and in some cases, it was done without the right supports such as IT, or ergonomics,” Dr Sinha says.

“Yet, even under these sub-optimal conditions, the pandemic showed that flexibility can work, with many people thriving in their safe, home-bound conditions.

“Of course, not everyone loved it, but the work did get done, and employees did show that working from home is not only possible, but also productive.

“Now, as workplaces return to some semblance of normal, people are asking – ‘what will happen to workplace flexibility?’ – and with such large-scale evidence that flexibility doesn’t diminish productivity, businesses cannot afford to turn a blind eye and just return to normal.

“Beyond COVID-19, we need a next normal that will not only embrace lessons from the lockdown, but also encourage flexible work.”

While more than 80% of Australian businesses offer scope for flexible work practice, only 17% embrace flexibility, leaving much room for improvement.

The way forward, according to Professor Carol Kulik, is by ‘job crafting’ – the notion that each job can be crafted to match the nature of the job and needs of worker.

Prof Kulik said a balance would be necessary to navigate recovery post COVID-19.

“No doubt we’re going to need give-and-take when it comes to flexible working arrangements – both for employers and employees,” Prof Kulik said.

“Managers need to recognise that they are often the biggest barriers to negotiating flexible work, simply because they aren’t well-prepared to motivate or manage staff remotely.

They’re also concerned about productivity from home, so all in all, it’s easier for them to say no to flexibility, than it is to say yes.

“On the other hand, while the pandemic has afforded us the opportunity to prove we can work flexibly, employees must recognise that not all work tasks are conducive to remote execution.”



editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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