A little over a hundred years after the Spanish flu, the world was taken by surprise by a pandemic that brought the planet, companies, businesses, travel and day-to-day life as we knew it to a standstill for almost three months. Gradually, and in record time, companies were forced to adapt to the new reality by sending employees home and achieving the unthinkable: making distance working a reality on a scale never seen before and, in most cases, increasing productivity at the same time. “We saw a rapid change in many of the existing work patterns and recognised the urgent need for companies to be able to adapt to the challenges while continuing their activity”, says Vânia Borges, human resources director at the Adecco Group in Portugal.
This global scenario was analysed in depth by the 'Reset Normal' study, conducted by Adecco in eight countries (Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America), and which heard more than 8,000 corporate employees between the ages of 18 and 60. The results leave no room for doubt: nothing will be as it was before with regard to work, with the vast majority of respondents demanding, in the near future, greater working hours flexibility and guaranteed mobility, the assessment of productivity in accordance with goals rather than hours worked, leadership with a greater focus on emotional intelligence and empathy, and the recognition of the pressing need for the requalification of many more 'traditional' professions and jobs. In brief, the study concludes that the combination of these factors will be the matrix for the success of companies in the future. “The change that occurred was sudden and was implemented with the existing limitations and with no prior preparation. The challenge now is to establish new ways of working based on the experience of the past few months”, argues Vânia Borges.
MORE TRUST AND COLLABORATION
The experience forced upon us by the pandemic has also helped, in many cases, to strengthen employee-management relations. Trust in distance work was a key factor on both sides and opened the doors to continuity. According to the Adecco study, 80% of the respondents believe that their employer will guarantee a better working environment after the pandemic, and 73% argue that governments will play a major role in defining new contractual and working rules in accordance with the needs of companies and employees. All over the world, including Portugal, “there have never been so many new laws in such a short period of time, and this arose from the need for governments to make fast decisions to enable companies to adapt to this change”, says Adecco's human resources director. As far as Vânia Borges is concerned, “the manner in which we go ahead with this change is now in the hands of all the stakeholders involved - entrepreneurs, governments, employees and workers' associations. The only way of guaranteeing a more flexible work market that enables everyone to adapt quickly while safeguarding the rights and duties of both employees and companies is to preserve this collaboration and willingness to develop”.