No-fly zone: can things return to normal when things still aren’t?

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No fly zone - normal

Employers and employees are currently moving through unchartered territories.  As the working world tries to return to a semblance of normal, there are constant obstacles to enabling this to happen.  Whether it’s the conversation around return to the office vs. working from home, or the expectation of face-to-face meetings and live events returning, just how can businesses return to ‘normal’, when the situation still isn’t?

Mixed messages

Much of the pandemic has been filled with mixed messages and employees can be forgiven for being confused about what is wanted or expected from them. In addition, these expectations are now sometimes at odds with what people have got used to or feel comfortable with. While there is no right answer to these issues, one of the most important things as an employer you can do now, is try and ensure your business expectations are clearly communicated and that the opportunity for discussion is available to your entire team.

Changing policies

Compounding the uncertainty is the very recent introduction of new policies for employees, including the right to request remote or flexible working from their first day of employment. These new rights provide a positive move forward for employees balancing work life and home life, and their introduction has been promoted widely. However, the criteria on which employers can agree or refuse a request to work remotely are less clear, which if not handled correctly, has the potential to lead to further uncertainty, misunderstandings and resentment.

Travel bans

The confusion continues when you look at the scenario of face-to-face meetings, events and traveling for work. Again, this is creating confusion and consternation for employers and employees alike. The pandemic has shown that technology can enable close collaboration without leaving your home, but there are still many situations where in-person meetings are incredibly valuable.

While some companies still have blanket travel bans in place – which, ostensibly is for the safety of their employees, but is also in fact saving the business substantial amounts of money in terms of time, travel, accommodation and subsistence – others are pushing their teams to do more than what they necessarily feel comfortable with. Again, there isn’t a clear-cut solution to. Government guidance is ambiguous and business needs differ from company to company.

Finding your way in the ‘new normal’

It is easy to get lost in the economic, health, and ethical decisions of the current business landscape. In truth, the ultimate outcome to this new ‘normal’ may well turn out to be a compromise – a hybrid solution that takes all the different elements into consideration. However, one thing is certain, open communication with your team is crucial to enabling you to find your way through the maze and discover the right balance for both the business and the individual.

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