The government roadmap lifting lockdown suggests that in England the 17th May will be the date on which businesses can safely re-open. This gives Managing Directors and business leaders less than 2.5 months to take the initiative and start consulting with their staff on proposals for returning to work.
The likelihood is that MDs are going to be faced with a hybrid workplace with the offer of being able to work flexibly and informally a number of days a week at home, without any contractual changes.
Secondly, it is an opportunity to reinforce the positive working patterns developed since the Covid-19 pandemic forced the first national lockdown – and learn from any negative habits that have emerged. Cranfield Business School has researched the trust-control dynamic. In response to losing control, managers have aggressively dialled up Key Performance Indicators and the monitoring thereof and been less focused on building trust through genuinely checking on welfare and coaching their staff to cope.
Doing nothing, assuming things will return to the old way, is likely to cede control to staff by legitimising formal flexible working requests or even a refusal to return to the office.
We would advise being proactive now to ensure a smooth return to work.
By Stephen Cowburn.
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