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Embracing the fluidity of work

fluidity of work

As hybrid workforces continue to become more prevalent, schedules, workplaces and even jobs are no longer fixed. ‘Our work today is highly fluid’, says Maurice Bisschop, General Manager at SD Worx Staffing & Career Solutions Netherlands. ‘There’s no point in resisting; your only option is to go with the flow.’

Embracing fluidity is not about letting go. It’s a full-time job, from redesigning offices to changing your leadership style.

A move towards more fluidity, particularly for white-collar workers, was already on the cards, even without the pandemic. But instead of slowly curving towards a new way of working, most of us took a very sharp turn.

Today, many workers see their colleagues more in video calls than at the coffee machine. About 27% of the European workforce find themselves teleworking on a structural basis. The Netherlands is by far the frontrunner, with over 4 in 10 employees structurally working from home – double the ratio of countries like Italy and France. And the ideal number of days European employees would like to spend working from home: 2.62 or half of the time. Preferably the days around the weekend.

From an improved work-life balance to reduced absenteeism

The fact that teleworking is already well-embedded in many companies is due to the benefits it brings for both employers and employees. To illustrate, about 2 in 3 employees consider it a turn for the better. It allows them to obtain a better life-work balance. For example, instead of commuting to work, they can drop the kids off at school or go for a run. Small changes with a great impact.

From an employer’s point of view, telework is an effective way to increase productivity and combat short-term absenteeism. Over 6 in 10 employees say their individual work benefits from telework, while an equal share of the European workforce points out it’s less likely they’ll call in sick when they’re not feeling well.

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Connection at risk

Telework, however, isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Many employees loose connection with their organisation. They miss out on the fun at work, feel isolated and estrange from the corporate culture. As long as the work content is still appealing, they’ll probably stay. But what ties them to you if that’s no longer the case? Not much. Teleworkers could well become job hoppers.

In short, you should make connectedness a top priority in your hybrid organisation. There are many ways to go about it: improve the communicative skills of managers, organise more activities that everyone must attend, make the office worth the commute, find new forms of recognition, and emphasise the role each individual plays in achieving your purpose.

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Part-time, temporary or self-employed? Yes, please

Another threat to employer-employee connection is the contractual flexibility people crave. For example, 35.7% of the European workforce see themselves working part-time or as a temp at some point in the future. Particularly Dutch (44.2%), UK (43.4%) and Belgian (40.4%) employees are attracted to that prospect. And the younger generations even more so. For them, self-employment is also a viable option. That’s because they’re less materialistic than people think. They don’t mind buying a smaller car if it means they’ll have more time for their hobbies. The question for employers: how do you deal with those wishes?

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Loosen up

There are several initiatives that companies are adopting to attract and retain talent, including short-term and project-based employment, compressed workweeks, career breaks, time off in lieu, and flexible working hours. The importance of being loose will only grow in the coming years as more employees want to choose where, when and how they work.

Make no mistake. If you can cater for those needs, you’ll get a lot in return. It’s an urban myth that millennials aren’t loyal. They’ll go the extra mile if they feel heard and looked after. That’s why an increasing number of organisations are pulling the fluidity card to become a more attractive employer.

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2022-06-14