…I’m grateful that we have learned to bend and not break during this year!

I am not talking about how much flexibility through exercise you have gained since the world shut down with COVID…I’m thinking about your home, work, and overall life flexibility. Especially for those employees who have been accustomed to going into an office every day.

The fact that organizations across the world have figured out how and where to bend traditional corporate policies without completely breaking down is a reason to be thankful. And what a perfect time of year to explore gratitude while coming into the 2020 holiday season!

We all know that with each new exercise you try, you use a distinct set of muscles. When this happens, you find you experience some aches and pains before you master the move. The same goes for changing up your life’s rhythms. It takes time. It takes practice. It takes patience…and it might hurt or be uncomfortable while you get used to the changes. But that’s no reason not to try.

In an article written by Tom Starner on How Covid-19 Will Redefine Workplace Flexibility found in Human Resource Executive, it’s believed that that “more than 80 percent of employers will offer flexibility at a greater scale after the pandemic.”

Previously, this work flexibility was considered only an occasional and desirable perk for employees. It was believed to be an important cultural brand consideration for attracting and retaining talent. Now it has become an essential practice for both employees and employers…and one for which we should be grateful.

One good thing to be said about COVID is that it has forced many organizations to consider flexible workplace practices. In Starner’s article, he shares information about a study Mercer conducted that said over 90 percent of the employers polled revealed that productivity had stayed the same – or even increased – during these flexible and remote work challenges!

Couple that information with the impact of reduced real estate and other capital expenses, lower or non-existent travel budgets, and other similar savings. Let us just say that business leaders have quickly realized bottom-line benefits in this new, forced work structure.

Remember, this imposed flexibility and heartfelt gratitude are not for only a chosen few that have earned the right to work from home or maintain untraditional work hours. Most jobs can flex in some way…from the hours and days that the job is performed, to how, or even who does the work.

Inclusive flexibility is now essential for most leaders to understand because it’s not just those few workers that can or must work from home that need the ability to flex, but workers who are caregivers, single parents, etc. who also need to be able to bend a bit.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 60 percent of homes throughout America both parents are working. For organizations to move forward successfully, change, and resilience with people is more critical than ever. Blending those with your processes and the very infrastructure your organization was built on will create sustainability and growth for the future. This is where your organization will truly shine.  And will connect with employee appreciation and profound gratitude for your ability to support the complexity of “human issues.”

No one could have possibly predicted we would be where we are today in the world. What I am grateful for is the ability for both leaders and employees to flex, bend, be compassionate, rally behind, and be with one another.  The opportunity to both speed up and slow down at the same time. And the notion that we are truly ‘seeing one another’ if for the first time (if even behind our masks).

The true test of great leadership is NOW. I invite traditional and progressive leaders to see this as an opportunity to enhance employees’ lives by creating an environment where people find purpose with the work, they perform now more than ever before.

If you are interested in becoming more flexible, check out the August 4, 2020 article in HR Director titled, FLEXIBILITY: how COVID-19 Turned a “Millennial Fantasy” into a no-brainer. In this informative and thought-provoking article on workforce flexibility, it asks you to consider and remember these four key elements to allow your team to thrive:

  1. Safety
  2. Belonging
  3. Recognition
  4. Growth

The article also points out, “In the end, for flexibility to work and be sustainable, both employees and employers must benefit. Employees will get an increased choice, autonomy, better work-life balance, and, in return, employers will enjoy higher utilization rates, decreased rent, and greater space efficiency, not to mention happier and more productive employees.”

All of this is certainly something to continue to reflect on as we move through the elements of this pandemic and other social, economic, and political impacts. And I’m curious. What are you learning through this experience? What are you grateful for? Would love to hear from you.

Finally, I am truly grateful for your support and readership.