The Covid-19 pandemic has required all of us to significantly change how and where we work. Remote working was previously something many just talked about, or reluctantly considered. Now, it’s become the norm for many organisations in the charity sector and it looks like it is here to stay in some form or another.
In a recent survey to Prospectus’ clients and candidates, it becomes clear that the pandemic has shifted perceptions of remote and flexible working, with 55% now saying their organisations have become more open to remote working and 24% are more open to flexible working going forward. Respondents also noted that they believe the current style of flexible working has given them the ability to be more productive in their work.
Much has been made of the longer-term changes the pandemic will cause for how we work. 88% of those who took part in the survey have been working from home because of measures to manage risk, and the experience has largely been positive. As one participant said ‘remote working has enhanced communication, sharpened planning and enhanced technology application’. Another stand out point from our survey is that people feel they have a better work-life balance – no more rushing to catch the train or worrying about getting to the nursery on time at the end of the day
However, the shift has also been demanding for many: ‘This has been an exhausting period, but one of great learning and innovation, both organisationally and personally. It has required different approaches to decision-making, a deeper consideration of employee welfare, and an opportunity to really think about the meaning of work and how we adapt our habits’.
For quite a few the recent experience of working from home/remotely has been a positive one, with 18% indicating that they will continue this permanently. 73% say they would like to blend working in the office and remotely, with only 8% indicating they would want to be primarily office-based. This could have big implications for how much and what kind of office space charities require going forward.
People are still unsure when they will physically return to their offices, with 51% saying they don’t know when this will happen. 14% say their organisation’s offices will re-open in August and 17% in September.
Finally, and perhaps not surprisingly, our survey also highlighted that charity workers don’t miss the daily commute. As one respondent said: ‘time and money savings make remote working very alluring, but then there's the social element that a Zoom meeting doesn't quite meet’.
Of course, this is just a snapshot of the sector. There are areas in the sector where remote working hasn’t been possible, such as frontline organisations. These organisations have needed to navigate the new landscape and commission their ordinally face-to-face service delivery to remote support. It is yet to be seen what the full impact that this will have on specific communities such as those with learning disabilities and how local authorities will continue to deliver these services long-term whilst also considering quality, price and of course, effectiveness.
Not everyone has had the luxury of being able to work from home and this should never be forgotten. But one thing is clear, how and where we work will take some time to settle and changes will last beyond the pandemic.