Since the covid-19 pandemic, new ways of working has been a hot topic. This concept was undoubtedly driven by the uniqueness of the moment we were living, but the truth is that Absa Bank Mozambique has always been a pioneer in the management of its human capital and the flexibility of its structure.
Being a bank that prioritises the opinion of its employees, it responded positively to the call of many, who were increasingly looking for a work space with purpose, with meaning and with relevance. However, when a company thinks about embracing new ways of working, three fundamental pillars must be taken into account in its execution: i) the ability to work from anywhere (yes – and here I am talking entirely online (virtual)!), ii) being an integral and active part of the co-creation of the company’s strategy and iii) connecting on a deeper and more personal level.
Until we were hit by the pandemic, many leaders and managers believed that productivity was related to the assiduity of the employee, that is, the fact of being and being seen present in the company, performing routine and easily automated activities was synonymous with productivity, something that has proven to be a utopia. The new ways of working have reinforced the need for managers to value trust and freedom more and more. It is true that there are still people who think that their presence in the office means greater productivity, but the new ways of working are trying to change this mindset.
Presentation of Results and Recommendations
If, on the one hand, the pandemic forced us to implement new ways of working, on the other hand, the companies that maintained these measures, even after the pandemic, can already identify two major benefits:
- Retention of people through job satisfaction and flexibility – There are already several studies and researches that prove that employees who are given greater freedom and autonomy in their functions, have lower turnover rates than those who are controlled and monitored. On the other hand, job satisfaction also increases when they feel they have a say in the strategy and future of the company where they work, that is, they have a sense of belonging.
It is necessary that leaders understand that each employee is a different person and needs guidance
-High Performance – Companies where leadership gives autonomy and freedom to their people end up increasing their employees’ confidence by allowing them to “be themselves” and to explore their potential at work, which consequently results in an increase in their performance.
But this implies change, and change is not just about ways of working and implementing new models. It goes further than that. It implies a change of paradigm in the whole structure of a company, especially in terms of leadership. By this I mean that in order to implement a new way of working, it is important to change the management model and, in this specific case, it is necessary to migrate from command leadership to leadership based on mentoring and coaching.
This type of leadership will lead, sooner or later, to a stage where employees will be able to prioritise their tasks, check in when necessary and work independently without needing someone to delegate tasks to them. Of course, the implementation of the new ways of working will only have the desired effect in organisations that have maturity from the whole company structure, from the bottom to the top, and will require trust, freedom and connection. And, therefore, leadership (at all levels) is fundamental. One cannot want to implement a new way of working when the employees are not prepared for it. It is necessary that leaders understand that each employee is a different person, who needs guidance and freedom to develop and reach this stage of preparation.
Above all, it is important to retain some of the main advantages of remote work: greater pool of potential talent (with almost no geographical limitations) for employers; employees maintain full salary and benefits; employees (and employers) save time and travel costs; greater autonomy and fewer interruptions in the office can increase productivity; employees can completely customise their work setup; and companies will be able to reduce parking and office space.
However, considering that we are aware of the importance of rethinking what we have been doing for many decades in the corporate world, it is also important to be aware of some less positive aspects, knowing in advance that it is necessary to create a structure to overcome them, such as: less suitability for positions that require the use of specialized equipment; fewer networking opportunities for and with employees; there may be a feeling, by some employees, that they are being neglected and isolated; greater difficulty in building team spirit; possible difficulties in scheduling meetings and coordinating projects.
A company that manages, however, to implement and maintain the new ways of working, putting its people at the centre of everything they do, besides managing to intrinsically bring out the best in them, will guarantee a higher retention rate of its talents, a greater sense of belonging, a sense of personal purpose aligned with that of the organisation and, consequently, greater delivery and high performance.