Keep The Zoom Backgrounds: The introduction of post-pandemic working policies

April 20, 2021

3 min read

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What's going on here?

PwC, one of the Big Four, recently announced that it shall introduce a post-pandemic working policy where office and remote working is combined.

What does this mean?

PwC has introduced a post-pandemic working policy that allows employees to work remotely with an expectation of 40-60% of their time being spent in the office or at client sites. There is an overwhelming shift for employees to choose their working hours including their start and finish times of the working day. An additional benefit that PwC employees will enjoy is finishing work at lunchtime on a Friday during the summer months of July and August. There is an overbearing element of freedom of choice in how employees can approach their working week, essentially making their working time most suitable for them. Similarly, policies for employee well-being have been introduced in other sectors too, for example, law firm Dentons has introduced a ban on Zoom meetings for one day a week to tackle “Zoom fatigue”. Having the most effective and productive working pattern is a beneficial tool as employers will seek to get the very best out of their employees. The pandemic has proved that home working can be successful and replicate office productivity while allowing employees to enjoy the benefits of working from home. It is only natural for employers to follow this up by introducing forward-thinking solutions for the future.

What's the big picture effect?

Law firms have also introduced similar post-pandemic working policies, DAC Beachcroft recently announced their new working policy dubbed “Flex Forward”. This means that even lawyers are now being actively encouraged to find their optimal working pattern with the same encouragement to flex their core hours over the working week. This is a huge step forward for the office-based employee because it encourages the work-life balance that a majority of employees desire. Some of these advantages include spending time with family, completing the school run and attending medical appointments. There is also the fact that commuting to the office shall be reduced significantly for employees, this is an advantage for the environment and allows employees to make better use of their time.

The introduction of post-pandemic working policies is the reward that office-based employees have been calling for, however, it is more surprising that it has taken a global pandemic for employers to take this significant action. Agile working approaches are well-desired benefits for employees and could now factor into the decisions that job seekers make when they are considering who they want to work for. An employer who recognises life outside the office is very attractive to work for, the advantages are overwhelming and may significantly impact the way employees decide to approach their working day. This factor could encourage more employers to consider introducing a more flexible working policy as they want to stay attractive to job seekers and young talent alike. It is hoped that this will act as an influence on employers to stay in touch with the benefits of home working and continue this for the foreseeable future.

The continuous announcements of post-pandemic working policies is a sign of forward-thinking, however, there is the issue that employees could take advantage of these dynamic working policies and hinder their performance and consequently their employer’s profits. Besides this potential issue, there are only advantageous factors for introducing post-pandemic working policies which will benefit an employee’s overall well-being. However, some employers, such as Goldman Sachs, maintain that a return to the office will provide junior employees with better integration and mentorship opportunities that they cannot benefit from whilst working from home. With more law firms announcing these policies, including Bird & Bird and Fieldfisher, how many more firms will follow suit or return to pre-pandemic working conditions? There is one certainty that working from home still brings, you will still need that beloved Zoom background.

Report written by Harry Grice

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