After 16 long months, the British government lifted nearly all its pandemic restrictions on the 19th July, including guidance to work from home (WFH). But with the Delta variant continuing to rise in the UK, the responsibility for keeping people safe has now shifted to individuals and businesses.
But what this responsibility will look like is still taking shape. How much information should end clients be asking of anyone entering their premises – be that employees or third party contractors working on assignments? Are they entitled to ask for proof of a negative test result? Is a vaccination passport required to gain access to their workplace?
Of course, not just how we gain access to the office is being debated – but the overall question regarding the traditional office still being required as we move into a new way of working. Much has been reported in the media from firms such as Deloitte who recently surveyed their own staff to discover that some employees want to return to the office, some want to work wholly at home, whilst others wanted to adopt a more ‘hybrid’ based approach spending just 2 or 3 days a week in the office.
With many firms having previously been used to their people all being in the one location – i.e. office or home, this new ‘hybrid’ approach poses a whole raft of practical and logistical issues for them.
Video conference calls may be disruptive in open plan offices, keeping a bank of empty desks when employees are only in the office a few days a week will not be cost-effective. Freelancers have led the way in opting to use coworking spaces rather than work from home – something that employees who choose to work from home may now also consider.
Deloitte further reported that digital technology will be critical to creating new ways of working, citing that a ‘lift and shift’ approach worked fine to make the switch from all working in the office to all working from home. But this will not work long-term in the post-Covid work world.
Firms are now having to take stock and make real changes not just in the physical location of their employees, but in relation to their IT systems and workflows. Digital technology is critical to this new way of working. WFH has forced people to adopt a digital way of working, what firms do next in the digital arena will be vital to how they succeed.
But this is not merely a case of upscaling digital assets and a few procedures. In many cases, it is a total cultural change for businesses. As more and more firms are listening to the preferences of their workforce, reviewing their own business models and workflows, many are identifying that a complete transformation project is needed.
An Opportune Time
With many feeling daunted by this challenge, the desire to seek external contributors to help solve this issue is definitely on the rise. Good news for freelancers at a time when contracts have been in short supply.
Change Management Consultants can help firms to map out their way forward and identify what external expertise will be required to drive the change. Additional HR expertise may be sought to deal with the implications of those returning to work and their chosen preference for where this may be, not to mention the need for increased mental health surveillance.
Bringing in external IT Consultants offers a fresh skill set to a business. They can look beyond the obvious and advise on the latest digital advances to create a work force which, regardless of location, can still work effectively, efficiently and potentially more productively.
Digital apps which enable people to book hot desks for their office days, AI tools and techniques that create real-time collaboration, digital work-flows that are more efficient are all becoming essential business tools to pave the way forward for a new hybrid workforce.
ContractingWISE has a wide range of options to help you keep your contracting career on track. To talk to a member of our team, call: 0203 642 8679