There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Since its advent, employees have been seeking greater support and flexibility – while undoubtedly now having proved their ability to deliver BAU results while working remotely.
A Global Work-from-Home Experience survey in 2020 showed that 68% of employees felt that they were very successful working from home. Respondents felt that solo or group work were performed equally well, with collaboration preferred in person.
As the world begins to return to normal, employers have started to explore how they can offer that ongoing flexibility, while also seeking to return their workforce to the workplace.
With inflation and the rising cost of living, there are factors which may lead to the balance of power shifting to the employer – with the potential for strengthening of return-to-workplace practices.
Nevertheless, this ongoing negotiation between employees and employers continue to play out with the goal being a win-win for all parties. The benefits of providing a flourishing environment for employees can be seen in the net effect of positive results for customers, shareholders and wider industry.
In Australia, while the proportion of workers switching jobs are still relatively low (at 9.5% in the February mobility survey by the Bureau of Statistics), we have had the highest switching rate since 2012. And with more job vacancies than ever before in Australia, it may be likely that a high volume of employees will be tempted to switch jobs soon.
The demand for flexibility has been building up for decades with one of the major holdbacks being trust – but the forced working from home implementation brought on by the pandemic proved that in the end, strong results are the main determining factor.
Leading organisations are learning to amalgamate the best of their culture with the flexibility craved by employees, to be supportive and improve employees’ work life balance, keeping them motivated, engaged and informed to get the best outcomes both for their people and the company.
We spoke to Sabina Sopov, Chief People Officer, PEXA after the leading prop-tech secured the 2022 Australian HR Awards, Employer of Choice (100-999 employees) win, on adapting the workplace for the future with their Flex First Policy.
“Getting that balance right was important for us at PEXA. Our peoples’ flexibility and welfare were a priority when we developed our Flex First policy, introduced earlier this year,” Sabina shared.
“PEXA’s Flex First policy was developed based on feedback from working groups held at the end of 2021, after nearly two years of working remotely. Designed to combine the needs of the team, individuals and leaders, while continuing the great service we provide to our customers – our people determine where they work each day, based on what works for them and their teams. To bring people together, we hold regular companywide events, consciously creating purpose driven moments as opportunities for people to connect, celebrate, learn and collaborate. In addition, PEXA offers up to 12 weeks of ‘workcation’ where our people have the option to extend their personal travel time and work remotely.”
Sabina adds, “Feedback has been incredibly positive – our people find that they are able to strike better work-life balance, and spend quality time with their families while still maintaining the interaction with their colleagues.”
These policies compliment other benefits such as the four Wellness Days per annum, exceptional family benefits for primary and secondary carers, and a dedication to learning with the launch of the PEXA Academy.
“And we will continue to evolve our Flex First policy, trialling different frameworks to enhance and improve – balancing the needs of individuals and our company goals. Our focus will always be on our people – how we can set up the best working experience so we can get the best outcomes for them, their teams and our organisation.
“It’s important to find the right technologies to support a hybrid workplace, and equip our people with the tools to do their job, no matter where they are. We’re passionate about innovation and are constantly testing new solutions, also ensuring that the right cyber security controls are place so we aren’t introducing new risks to the organisation. We are also due to commence a complete refurbishment of our Melbourne headquarters to support our Flex First policy.”
While the paradigm shift on the workplace of the future continues, it’s evident that there will be a greater focus on employees’ mental health and wellbeing. And flexibility must be supported with the right technologies so both the organisation and the people within can continue to be creative, responsive and thrive.