Why Should You Attend:
While it is difficult to predict the future, many experts have stated the upheaval caused by the pandemic will encourage many employers to think about implementing all types of “non-traditional” work arrangements including shorter work weeks and both “in-office” and remote working. A Zip Recruiter survey in July 2020, showed that job postings offering four-day workweeks increased over those in 2019. Between 2015 and 2018, the number of postings offering shortened workweeks was fewer than 18 per 10,000 postings each year.
Companies have certainly experimented with the four-day work model in the past. And some have had great success, albeit outside the U.S. Microsoft Japan has reported a 40% increase in productivity and a 23% drop in electricity costs among the results of allowing employees to work four days a week throughout the summer of 2019. The COVID-19 era has only underscored the need for employees to rest and recharge, and the need for organizations to become more agile and efficient. Another aspect of this change affects the culture of the company; fewer random or useless meetings, faster decision making, changing or updating outdated processes that just take too much time, all of which hopefully would make people, teams and organizations more effective and use their time more efficiently. For the moment, remote working has made many people and organizations more effective, in terms of having more ways to get things done
COVID-19 has also adjusted expectations in terms of the amount of work that has to be done during a specific time period. There will probably be more variations in the day-to-day flexibility of scheduling; mini-breaks from work each day to do things like help the kids get settled for their remote schooling or take care of personal situations that must now be infused into the workday, because the work is happening in people’s homes. We might see more work done over six days a week now, but less done in the traditional hours. In a post-pandemic environment, departures from the typical workweek figure to become more commonplace, whether they come in the form of condensed work schedules or more hybrid models that combine time at the office with remote work.
We can also expect that employees will demand greater flexibility and organizations will require it. What this will look like will vary depending on the sector and geographic location but there will certainly be an impact on commutation, office space and cost of infrastructure. Survey data also supports the notion that many employers are embracing more flexible work options. A Mercer study found 83% of more than 750 organizations saying their company is considering flexible working on a greater scale than before the pandemic. Another thing the pandemic has taught us is that employees will be looking for more personalization, demonstrating that the impact of the pandemic will be different for each employee depending on many factors; school age children, for instance. Ultimately, the pandemic has accelerated acceptance of the idea that work can be done anywhere, anytime and in many ways. This may lead to flexibility in terms of where and when work is done, but also the logic of work may change depending on the individual. Finally, the core competencies of organizations may be realigned and refocused to reflect the changes in the marketplace. Adaptation and flexibility will become essential components of these changes. HR will need to incorporate new and emerging technologies in order to help the organizational culture and values align with these changes.
While this arrangement has some benefits, such as avoiding long commutes, many employees and companies found it challenging. One employee at an internet company quipped his work day changed from ‘996’ to ‘007,’ meaning from nine to nine, 6 days a week, to all the time. On the personal front, employees found it difficult to manage kids’ home-schooling via video conference while coordinating with remote colleagues. At a company level, many felt that productivity rapidly tailed off if not managed properly.
In the short term, a vast majority (88%) of employers are encouraging or requiring employees to work from home—whether they’re sick or not. They have almost universally (97%) suspended work-related travel. When it comes to leave, policies among the respondents vary: About half mandate that employees first dip into sick leave, followed by vacation leave and then they may be able to take advantage of specific PTO programs created for the current conditions. About 20% are offering additional PTO for those who are sick or caring for a sick family member, while others have increased PTO for parents with children who are now home from school. The organization’s health is also a priority: Many are trying to cut costs by trying to use technology more effectively, temporarily suspending new hiring, reducing consultant hours.
While HR leaders are rightfully focused on decision-making around these immediate priorities, the realities of the COVID-19 crisis are upending the traditional approach to business strategy. Historically, business leaders haven’t made decisions in the short term that could put the long-term plan at risk. While that is still true, there is an important difference now: To accomplish this in the past, organizations wanted to design processes and solutions that would stand the test of time, but that mentality will no longer work.
Leaders need to adopt a “default yes” mindset and as long as we are not breaking the rules, we should encourage employees to do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals. Just as we found after 9/11, one of the critical roles of HR in times like these is to foster a sense of safety, trust and collective thinking in our people.
The coronavirus situation actually represents an opportunity. If you focus on your people in a competent and ethical way and you actively listen to their needs, you can drive up trust, teamwork and resilience.
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Who Will Benefit:
Dr. Chartier is the Principal of HRinfo4u, a human resource consulting firm and a well-known educator and speaker. As a consultant, he works with organizations to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their human resource function. He has worked extensively in designing, developing and implementing human resource program, procedures and systems for smaller and mid-size firms up and down the Hudson Valley.
Greg is a thought provoking professional speaker and his wisdom and insights into management and leadership make him an electrifying speaker and seminar leader. His seminars are customized to reinforce company mission, vision, values and culture and the content is practical for team leaders, managers, supervisors and executives alike.
Dr. Chartier has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, an MBA in Finance and a PhD in Human Resources. He is a National Member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and is certified by the Human Resource Certification Institute (HRCI) as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and a Global Professional in Human Resources (GPHR) as well as a Senior Certified Professional (SCP) by SHRM.
He served on the Board of the local SHRM Chapter, the Westchester Human Resources Management Association (WHRMA), as the Treasurer for nine years. In addition, Greg served on the Board of the Business Council of Westchester in a variety of capacities and continues his service as the Chair of the Human Resources Council. Dr. Chartier also serves on the Board of the Child Care Council of Westchester.
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