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Employers need to change ‘outdated’ office-centric mentalities

Employers with an office-centric mentality must adapt and move away from outdated ways of working, says Alexia Cambon, research director at Gartner HR.

Speaking at a roundtable hosted by research and advisory firm Gartner yesterday (12 May), Cambon presented new research about how the pandemic has changed employee mindset around hybrid work.

According to Gartner, 56% of UK employees will judge whether to stay with their current organisation on what flexible working polices are offered.  

Cambon said: “The data is clear and shows the pandemic has had a lasting effect on the way employees want to work.

“Employers can’t ignore this; they must let go of their attachment to outdated ways of working and offer more flexible approaches.”

Nearly three-quarters (70%) of UK Gen-Z employees said they want to work in a hybrid workplace post-pandemic, and only 5% said they want to be fully on-site.

However, Cambon said HR should not rush to introduce hard and fast polices that create a different but equally inflexible system.

She said: “HR teams need to evaluate times and structures that work well for individuals and offer forms of working that will be most helpful to individual employees.

“We’ve seen that one size does not fit all and everyone works differently, so let’s allow them to.”

She pointed out that the nine-to-five workday was first introduced to provide manufacturing workers with enough daylight hours, and questioned if this was still best practice when the way we live and work are now so different.

She said: “The majority of workers no longer work on the factory belt, we no longer need hours of natural day light to do our jobs.

“Why have we insisted on working this way for all these years and why are we not thinking differently about when and how much work we do in a day.”

Brain Kropp, chief of HR research at Gartner, said flexibility is now key to allowing employees to perform to the best of their ability.

He said: “The benefits of working flexibly can outweigh any negatives that may come with it.

“While employees may miss ‘watercooler moments' and socialising with colleagues, they’ll soon be able to do so, and under more flexible times that suit their lifestyles.”

The pandemic’s effect on hybrid work:

How to make hybrid working ‘work’

Hybrid working – the big HR challenge

Rethink organisational design to maximise benefits of hybrid work