With the promise of a vaccine in the news, over the coming weeks we will gradually discover what the ‘new normal’ looks like. I asked our Founder, Heidi Bannister to share her expectations and feelings about what will happen next.

Personally, I see this as an exciting time where the world of work will potentially change forever. I realise there will be challenges for us all and the adjustment will impact some harder than others, but I’m optimistic that in the long run, the workplace will be changed for the better. Flexibility and adaptability are the qualities we need to nurture as we face this turbulent time.

Just a few generations ago a ‘job for life’ was commonplace, where you worked for the same company for your entire career. You had job security but little control over where, when and how you worked. The company called the shots.

I’ve worked in the beauty industry for 35 years, with the last 20 in recruitment, supporting companies as they evolve and grow, and people as they progress through their career. Advances in technology over this time have blurred the lines between our work and personal lives, in a way that some find intrusive. Perhaps this is part of the reason for the increasing recognition of the importance of wellbeing and mental health in all aspects of our lives.

In our last beauty industry Salary Survey, we found that ‘flexible working’ topped the list of desired benefits, followed closely by ‘flexi-time’.  It is certainly always easier to fill roles when the employer offers some flexibility. It shows they value the contribution and wellbeing of their staff.

Over recent years I’ve been happy to see a rise in part time roles, contract roles and job share opportunities. As an employer myself, I value the health and happiness of my team as much as their work.

The Arthur Edward team started the new year with flexibility in mind. At the start of January, we got together to discuss our business and personal values and objectives, and to brainstorm how we wanted to work in the year ahead. We set a goal to increase our productivity so we could work a 4-day week, giving us each more free time to do things outside work. We had our strategy in place and were working towards this goal when the Covid-19 crisis took hold. The last few months has convinced us of the benefits of this plan.

Some people who were adamant that their staff had to be in the office have now seen that it is perfectly possible to work remotely for at least some of the time. Let’s hope ‘presenteeism’, where you had to be seen to be at your desk to be considered working, is gone for good.

Flexible working benefits employers too. The cost of office space is a drain on company profits, and a fixed location limits the potential talent pool to people who are happy to live within easy reach. Creativity and productivity have been proven to increase within a less stressful environment. And reducing traffic on our roads and rail, especially at rush hour, is a good thing for congestion and ease of movement, not to mention the environment, pollution and associated mental and physical conditions.

With so many in our industry on furlough or working from home, many people have rediscovered a love of nature and the health benefits of spending more time outdoors. They have also taken up talents, hobbies, and skills that they couldn’t fit into their busy working routine. On our team we have a seamstress, an artist and someone with a surprisingly extensive dressing up box!

The new focus is on the work people do, rather than the hours they work.  And with more flexibility on where and when we work, a happier work-life balance could be the end benefit for us all.

Heidi Bannister, Founder & MD Arthur Edward Recruitment

 First published in Cosmetics Business

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