Flexible Working Is No Longer A Benefit: So What Is?
2020 was a year like no other and so much has changed. Think back to before the pandemic and most of us have some sort of fuzzy memory of life before everything got turned upside down.
Travel mugs, lunchboxes, change for the machine have all been temporarily shelved. The daily commute, the faint chatter of the open office and getting regular traffic updates have fallen away from our conscious.
But as vaccines get rolled out and numbers start to go down, there’s a sense of something on the horizon: Hybrid working. Flexible working. No – blended working. Actually, we’re not quite sure what to call it – but it’s definitely something – and it’s on its way.
And just like our memories of pre-2020 life, the next few years also look a little hazy right now. Organisations have been tasked with building completely new experiences for their employees and there are a lot of decisions still up in the air.
So, as we once again grip onto our Travel Mugs and Leap Cards in anticipation, what’s next for employees?
Flexible working as the new norm
Back in 2019, we spoke about how Flexible Working was becoming a real benefit and something organisations were using to differentiate themselves when sourcing the best talent the country has to offer. Ahh – 2019 – how little did we know!
Moving on to 2020, we were hurled into what became the great working from home experiment that nobody asked for – but it happened and well…we did it! So firstly, well done us. Secondly – now what? Flexible working isn’t a benefit. In fact, providing the option is now Irish Law.
So, when employers are looking to attract the best of the best, what – apart from the old ‘competitive salary’ line – is going to really win candidates over?
How we work has changed forever. And how we work in the future will also continue to evolve and this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on the job market, how businesses are hiring and what candidates look for.
Putting employees first
We have always understood the benefits of working from home. There were seldom employees waking up in the morning and purposefully taking the busiest route to work purely for the rush of sitting in 8am traffic. Morning Yoga sessions, home brewed coffee, meetings in slippers – it would seem we’re living the dream.
But further down the line, we started to see the failings of a fully remote working model come to light. Digital burnout, isolation, stress and lack of support are becoming more and more prevalent.
However, with the new Hybrid Working Model looking to put employee priorities first, we can at least expect our more recent concerns to be addressed.
Hybrid working: What can we expect?
We have already started to see different organisations look to carve out a route forwards in hope of templating the future of the working world. What’s the best working model? Is it a four-day week? Is it fully remote? Will we simply end up back in the office again?
But while all this goes on, the job market prevails and so do working benefits. And as everything evolves, what can we expect to see in terms of deal clinchers and game changers from employers in 2021 and beyond?
New Employee Benefits
Flexible working arrangements
Yes, you read that correctly. Flexible working is the new norm but individual organisations will still decide on how they do flexi. So, with hybrid working on the horizon, it might be that employees look for the model that suits them best when deciding on where to step to next in their career.
IT Recruitment Consultant Chris Byrne puts it succinctly when it comes to contractors’ benefits: “It’s very much a contractors’ market out there. They are calling the shots at the moment. It’s very busy in the Infrastructure/System Admin IT sector. If I have a job that requires a mix of onsite and remote work, it can be hard to compete with other employers who are offering fully remote contracts.
“At the moment, I am seeing more and more contractors only opting for fully remote positions and ruling out any onsite whatsoever. This may relax a bit once the vaccine rollout nears completion, however.
“Start/finish time flexibility is also appealing. Money definitely talks and outlining to people how positions can further their career, for example, getting involved in new technology projects, will definitely appeal to many contractors. But we have yet to see how this all develops over the next year or so!”
Training and professional development
Working from home has provided us with a little more time back. And this can be put to good use through the likes of training and development. Financial support and time off to complete relevant courses will definitely be an enticing offer for those looking to move jobs right now. Especially in the technology sector where being up to date on your qualifications is so critical.
Financial support and general wellness schemes will certainly be attractive when it comes to choosing which employer to go for. Work culture is something that will definitely need to be considered as we move forwards, simply because it’s something that will be difficult to implement with a dispersed workforce, however, it is so key for teams to work together well and for general mental wellbeing too.
Well defined policies for equal opportunities
So many reports have already uncovered the need for equal opportunities in the return to office. As remote working came into play, many of us were piled into the same boat. But as we start to choose the best model for ourselves as individuals, those who work from home more often might feel that they are less likely to be promoted than those who are in the office more regularly. So, by having a firm policy in place that supports the progression of all employees, this will most likely stand out as a benefit.
Need we say more? Private health insurance brings a huge relief to many people and it’s no doubt that providing this as a benefit will help not only attract good quality candidates but will also be an incentive to keep hold of them too.
Many health insurance suppliers also provide well-being services such as counselling, which will also be a major support.
Family focused benefits
Parents have certainly felt the brunt of remote working. Juggling childcare and a fulltime job was not what anyone signed up for. And this was never a sustainable model either. Working from home is meant to be a benefit and those pursuing their careers need time to focus. This means childcare support and more family focused benefits may come to the forefront as employers look at what is going to be the most helpful and most attractive in winning the best candidates.
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If you would like to find out more about IT roles in Ireland, talk to us. We’re highly experienced and can give you advice as well as help with your CV. And if you have a particular career in mind – be it permanent or contract based, we can help guide you in the right direction. Additionally, we can tell you what the industry looks for with regards to specific roles as well as give you up-to-date insights.
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