Connection and Flexibility Key in the New Workplace

As a member of the Philadelphia chapter of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Network, I have the opportunity to meet a variety of female colleagues in the franchise space and learn more about the unique opportunities and, yes, challenges that we as professionals face. Last week, two experts from the childcare space talked about the distinct trends that have impacted their locations and the working world in general as a result of the pandemic. Many of us being mothers, we exchanged stories of the uncertainty and anxiety that set in particularly in the early days, when so many parents were left to balance unrelenting (and sometimes increasing) work demands while caring for and helping educate their children.

We all agreed we are certainly living in a new era in the workplace – where employers and employees alike are rethinking mainstays like set hours and 5 days a week in the office. As productivity has risen in many companies and employees are finding greater work/life balance with time and money saved from commuting, flexibility will continue to be the guiding principle.

At the same time, we also recognized the value of team collaboration and workplace culture – particularly in more creative industries and for younger employees who have never worked in an office. One of our panelists shared this article that includes a quote that seemed to resonate with my breakout group: “You can be on Zoom for eight hours, but when it’s all work agenda items, there aren’t those little conversations about family and those personal moments you have…People just aren't connected to their companies when it's just the work itself.”

Through the pandemic, we’ve certainly come to know many of our colleagues and clients – and their children and pets - more personally than we could have imagined. And that’s been nice. It will be important not to lose that connection whether in person or remote as we navigate the new workplace.

- Karen