Last night’s news was dominated by talk of a breakaway European Super League, or rather the remote control was just out of my reach and I was trapped under a cat so I couldn’t change the channel. Anyway, my understanding of the controversy surrounding the Super League is as follows:
· The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ intend to join a European Super League as founders, together with some Italian, Dutch and Spanish teams.
· This announcement has achieved virtually universal condemnation from home leagues, commentators, the government, and football fans.
· The clubs have been warned by UEFA that they could face a ban from domestic and international competitions. FIFA has also expressed its disapproval.
· In light of universal disapproval, short of preventative legislation, they still might do it anyway.
· Football, I’m told, is nothing without the fans.
After watching an hour of news devoted to pretty much just this (my cat was really tired), I was left wondering, on what level do the clubs concerned think this is a good idea? Channel 4 news failed to track down a single fan – of any club – that supported the idea of a Super League. Ultimately, of course, it’s about money, but given how many UK football clubs are on the verge of administration, it really doesn’t seem like the Big Six have a great deal of interest in giving back to the fans of the beautiful game, and I wonder how many of their fans will continue to support them if they plough ahead.
It got me thinking. One of the challenges we’ve had in lockdown is adapting to working from home. I’ve written extensively about it – here and here for example. But actually, in spite of the early challenges it presented, most people I speak to have adapted well, and I include myself in this. I get up later, although I’m usually at my desk earlier. I’m not frazzled after a horrible commute. I’ve saved loads of money on petrol. I can get a load of washing done and hung up to dry during the day. I can pop down and speak to my partner whenever I need to. I can work flexibly, and I find that I get a lot done.
Of course, one of the challenges our employers face now is that having adapted to home working, saved money, and eliminated our commute, many of us are not itching to get back into the office on a full-time basis. At the moment, there is a lot of vagueness around what’s actually going to happen, which I can best summarise as follows:
· Some employers envision a return to business-as-usual once lockdown is over, whereby all their home-based workers will happily return to the office and everything will go back to the way it was.
· This is likely to receive almost universal condemnation from employees, prospective employees, management teams, and third parties like myself.
· The businesses have been warned that they could risk losing their valued employees to competitors that have embraced a more flexible business model.
· In light of universal disapproval on making home workers return to the office, they might do it anyway.
· A successful business, I’m told, is nothing without the staff.
Unlike the big six, it certainly isn’t about money, as it would undoubtedly be cheaper to pay for less office space. So what’s it about? Supervision?
If your home-based team members haven’t earned your trust by now, perhaps you ought to consider whether they are right for your business. But if they have, then you should continue to trust them. Most new employees will understand that a degree of supervision is required while they are learning the ropes, and they won’t mind that. But the possibility of homeworking is an attractive one for many of us, and if you aren’t willing to offer it to new starters in the longer term, or worse, if you’re willing to take it away from team members that have contributed to your success during the challenging 12 months we’ve had, you need to be aware that you’re going to lose people along the way.
And if you’re ok with that, then crack on.
But if you are less than certain that your loyal workforce will follow you back to the office, consider the following points:
· Eliminating the need to visit the office means you can recruit from a much wider geographical pool of people, which means you don’t have to limit your search for new talent.
· Being a progressive employer that allows homeworking means YOU can pick up the top talent from YOUR competitors that are insisting everyone goes back to the office.
Not everyone is a good remote worker, of course, but there are tools that you can use to help you to identify if someone is capable of working productively without physical supervision. Your recruitment partner can help you with this. But I suggest you commit to a decision soon, because your employees will want to know what’s on the horizon, and your competitors may already be trying to lure them away by guaranteeing the flexibility that you aren’t willing to offer them.