The rapid and largely successful shift to remote working for a huge proportion of Ireland’s working population was little short of remarkable. Technical challenges were overcome at a pace which many would have thought unimaginable prior to the pandemic.
Flexible working is becoming the expected norm for companies of all sizes, according to Niamh O’Brien, Director, BDO Talent Management.
“Every company is looking at remote and flexible working. If not they’re in trouble. The tide has definitely turned. Among the top three questions candidates ask about any new job is if the organisation offers flexible working. Before it was a case of getting in first and then asking about it. It is on the agenda for any SMEs we are speaking to.”
But they are taking it slowly. “They are talking about a phased approach. They are starting small and seeing how it goes for both sides. They are not long-term commitments at the early stages.”
She agrees that SMEs are in quite a good position when it comes to caring for their remote working employees. “It’s all about people and empowerment and staying in touch and that can actually be easier for SMEs. Multinationals can have all these shiny benefits policies and offices with pool tables and so on, but that doesn’t matter anymore. The size of SMEs can level the playing field because they are closer to their staff.”
Responding to employee needs will be critically important as new models are implemented.
“SMEs need to engage and listen to employees,” says Niamh. “No one size fits all and there is no book to follow. Businesses need to listen to their employees and look at what works for the business. They have to work through it and find out what works best for them.”
Content adapted from The Irish Times Special Report, It can be easier for SMEs to empower staff and stay in touch