Where’s your zoom room? How WFH is new workplace dealbreaker.

WFH, AFK, Zoom room. How about a quarantini? From new acronyms to new ways to de-stress when you get to ‘Blursday’, the Covid pandemic is not only adding new words to our vocab, it’s changing the nature of work.

Flexible work is increasingly a feature of more than just the most evolved workplaces. In 2021, as the global workforce continues to grapple with and navigate its way around COVID-19, working from home may be the deciding factor in filling those jobs.

Human Resource Advisory group Gartner’s latest research found 22 per cent of candidates will abandon an application process if they feel their expectations of work/life balance won’t be met.

Almost 40 per cent say they’d leave a job rather than return to the office full-time.

And only about 35 per cent of workers are prepared to stay in their jobs for 12 months or more.

Director Neal Woolrich said companies must use other incentives to prevent “staff churn”.

Money on its own is no longer enough of a motivator. Companies need to develop a better “employee value proposition”.

Gartner suggest the following:

·     flexibility in how work was structured and when and where people worked

·     facilitating personal growth, not necessarily connected to work

·     creating opportunities to pursue hobbies or social causes

·     offering wellbeing programs

·     taking a stand on issues such as equality or environmentalism

·     ensuring employees felt “deeply understood” with a balance of privacy and connection when working at home.

For employers competing for limited talent in a competitive labour market – particularly while international borders remain closed – it’s a lot.

The idea of work/life balance has evolved, quickly, into work/life harmonisation. Increasingly, employers are saying potential staff are asking what companies can offer them?

foundU Implementation Manager Sam Canton lives on the Gold Coast. He says the ability to choose when to come into the office has huge appeal.

“When you’re travelling three hours a day you don’t have time to fit in everything you want in your life like fitness,” he said.

“I think companies have had their hand forced a couple of years early in terms of working from home but it’s not just a salary negotiation anymore. It’s more of a work in progress.”

New dad Luke Thomas agrees. As foundU’s Head of Implementations, the flexibility of working from home means he can spend time with his baby daughter and work later in the evening when she’s asleep and it suits him.

What happens, however, when borders re-open and work goes back to pre-Covid normal?

Most commentators predict they’ll be some adjustment but the consensus is Covid has changed the fundamental nature of how we work and live.

It’s also changed the employer/employee dynamic. We’re seeing it across the country as CBDs look like ghost towns – not just in lockdown but because some employers are finding it hard to get people to come back to the office.

Queensland public servants, for example, are being ‘encouraged’ to return to the office.

So, what does this mean for employers trying to attract and retain the best talent?

Maybe it’s about letting them know they’ll be able to throw on a load of washing and check their sourdough starter before they click on that notification.