The challenges of hybrid working for the charity sector

Remote working

How will job seekers desire for hybrid and home working impact the voluntary sector?

The COVID pandemic saw a mass movement to home and hybrid working and a huge take up of technology to enable staff to work, engage and collaborate online.

Of course, many roles, particularly those involved with social care and beneficiary facing positions remain largely in person services, but for the rest, remote working has been in the main a success, certainly for the employees.

The private sector were quick to see the savings of having a devolved work force, giving up office space and making significant savings.

The voluntary sector has been less keen on making remote working permanent and this has seen a reduction in the take up of office-based vacancies.

So why has the voluntary sector been more reticent to embrace this new way of working?

Firstly, charities, in the main does not have the resources to invest in the technology that the private sector have.

Secondly, the collaborative nature of voluntary sector working has historically taken place in person.

Third, there has been a lack of investment into IT training of staff which has led to some staff facing real difficulty operating in this new environment.

Finally, and probably the most controversially, is an unwillingness of the voluntary sector to embrace change.

Sadly these factors are leaving significant skills gaps among the charity and community sector and this will inevitably impact delivery.

So, what is the answer?

We need to see significant funding in IT infrastructure for the voluntary sector. If charities are going to collaborate, partner and deliver this investment needs to be sector-wide and therefore should come from national or local government.

Research into the potential risks of the sector being left behind should provide the necessary evidence for the need for this funding.

There needs to be a culture change within the sector, recognising that staff effectiveness should be measured by impact, not presenteeism and being sat in their seat within the office.

Some aspects of work are better served face to face but it should not be the default position.

Embracing hybrid working and investment in skills in technology will see effective working and the ability to attract talented and skilled employees who have turned their back on the traditional 9-5.

Conversely, we need to recognise that for some staff, personal circumstances mean that home working is more challenging and therefore charities need to adopt a flexible approach.

It cannot be seen as a soft option but monitoring and management of home working also needs to adapt. It is not simply about checking that staff and logging on during office hours, its about ensuring that support is given to staff so that they can effectively do their jobs.

What are the risks if we don’t adapt?

We will see a loss of ambition and talent within the sector, particularly in Wales.

Remote working means that job opportunities for applicants are not limited to those within a 30 mile radius of their home.

Attractive pay deals in London and the Home Office Counties are now within the grasp of those who wish to live in Wales but secure an attractive salary.

As we see inflation rise, salary becomes an increasingly important factor, here too we see a drag in Wales.

We need to recognise the current situation and adapt to change if the sector is to survive.

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