Working from Home: A New and Better Normal?
Since the UK lockdown was enacted on 23rd March 2020, a revolution in home working has taken place. With one-quarter of the workforce furloughed and almost another quarter (22%) being key workers, that leaves over 50% of the workforce left working from home or, as it is often abbreviated, WFH.
This figure is greater than any period in modern history. As we begin to emerge from this crisis it is noteworthy to think about the long term implications of this new way of working. As an Executive Search Agency, Inclusive Boards is especially interested in how this will affect senior leadership and Board level governance.
Boards across the country have adapted to this crisis by hosting their quarterly meetings through video conferencing. There is no doubt that this is a lesser substitute than the real thing but from the Boards we work with, it seems to be working. Indeed, onboarding of new Trustees and Non-Executive Directors has been a success too, with candidates finding the process far easier than expected.
Moving forward, Board selection committees could be entering a phase where Board meetings and hiring processes are less rigid. This does not mean every meeting is conducted virtually, but the option for those who need it would be an accommodating solution for those who are based in different localities or have competing commitments. Tried and tested during the lockdown, this new way of working could be here to stay.
The increased use of digital tools such as video conferencing could also help to improve gender diversity at senior leadership and Board level. With women still undertaking the majority of primary care work in heterosexual households, the option for more flexible home working should be a long term success. Universal work from home policies are also likely to encourage more men to take up the option. This has the capacity to be the foundation of a more compassionate human-centric executive (and non-executive) future.
Conference calling and cloud-based working/collaboration also have huge potential to incorporate the full skillset of the regions to the nation’s leading third sector and private sector organisations. At Inclusive Boards we champion diversity beyond the nine protected characteristics including, regional diversity, which is often overlooked in diversity initiatives. This is why almost 71.5% of Inclusive Boards’ network is based outside of London. Whilst many may never want to think about working from home again after this crisis, it is important that it is kept in mind as a flexible option for senior leadership and Boards. This has the potential to benefit morale, gender inclusion efforts, and regional diversity.