Navigating the post-pandemic workplace

26 May 2020

If employers in the betting and gaming industry don’t properly manage the transition out of lockdown, they risk alienating both their existing and prospective talent base, says Gambling.com Group’s Ellen Monaghan.

Right now, it is not clear when we will all be able to be in the same physical workspace again, if ever. Therefore it’s vitally important that employers adapt and evolve to the changing needs of their workforce.

Many businesses that require the physical presence of staff will return to work with strict social distancing rules, temperature testing, one-way systems, Perspex screens and sanitisation protocols.

But for those who can work remotely, this could well become their new world going forward. In time, large office-based companies may forego their expensive, rented city-centre buildings in favour of smaller premises, perhaps even outside of cities.

Now that it has been proven efficient to have remote workers operating in multiple time zones, the days of packed boardroom meetings could well be over. 

It may soon be common for some employees to be fully remote, others office-based full-time with another group working somewhere in between. So what do these predicted trends mean for the recruiting and retaining of individuals in the gambling industry?

How we work will change
For employers in the gaming sector grappling with these new concepts and desires, it’s important to put a few things into perspective – being forced to work at home during a global pandemic should not be directly compared to remote working in general.

There are so many stress factors that could be affecting employees during the coronavirus crisis, such as the loss of a loved one, anxiety about the future, illness, loneliness from isolation or exhaustion from home-schooling and childcare. Many of these issues won’t be prevalent in the post-pandemic era of remote working.

Right now, it is more important than ever to promote a culture of transparency and openness, which can make your employees’ lives easier and ensure their output is more effective.

This can be achieved by clearly communicating what is expected of employees in terms of their goals and responsibilities, as well as by giving them the correct tools and mechanisms to undertake those tasks and collaborate with teammates.

If companies have improved their processes in this way during the pandemic, there will be little room for micromanagement post the pandemic.

Opportunity to be more resourceful
The challenge will be ensuring that any return to office life in future does not bring with it a return to bad habits – meetings for issues that could have been sufficiently dealt with digitally, for example.

When countries and economies are fully reopened, companies should seriously evaluate the tasks they have not been able to do and consider if they ever really needed to be done in the first place. There will be no better time to assess methods and clean up our acts. 

Technology and online businesses are accustomed to paperless and automated processes, but this may be the first time that many companies have been forced to change how they do things. 

For every monotonous task you can be sure that there is an app that can either assist with the process or, better yet, do it entirely. Virtual assistants are also a resource that will be increasingly relied upon.

The future of work is going to be more flexible in terms of where, when and how we go about our business. Some companies may find this a challenge, but we have found that by showing flexibility where possible, it can improve an employee’s personal situation and simultaneously their employee experience. In turn, that will aid their satisfaction and productivity. 

How to keep staff engaged
But it’s also going to be important to help make employees feel human again. After Covid-19 a lot of people may struggle to adapt to the new normal if, as is predicted, things cannot fully go back to the way they were.

To keep employees fulfilled, we have always embraced charity work because when a workforce comes together to raise funds for good causes, it gives everyone a lift and provides an opportunity to help the less fortunate.

Many sectors are finding it extremely difficult in these times, especially charities, which have lost many fundraising opportunities. Giving something back in a fun, social and interactive way is still possible without physical workplace events.  

Group activity challenges to promote teamwork and wellness have been virtual successes for our company and are something that we will continue in the post-pandemic world.

Review your employee benefits
It’s important to accept that many standard, pre-pandemic employee reward and recognition mechanisms simply will not work in the medium term post-pandemic. A culture valuing flexibility should extend to company perks.

Benefits should be reviewed to make them fit for both pandemic times and the post-pandemic future of increased remote work. Office beers and pizzas as team rewards could become spot awards and published praise, for example, while onsite massages and company days out at the races could be switched for help with utility costs and lunch meal reimbursements. 

Looking forward, perhaps hosting whole company events in hotels or conferencing facilities for quarterly or monthly meetings and get-togethers will enable all members of staff – whether remote or office-based – to socialise with colleagues in person.

There was already a significant desire among those in the gaming industry to work from home before the pandemic and this has only increased as many have companies have successfully carried on doing business despite the restrictions in place.

Video interviews, online assessments and virtual onboarding could become the new norm for any job that can be done from home – and the gambling industry has many jobs with remote capability.

To ignore the growing desire to work remotely after the pandemic would show a lack of trust at best and organisational incompetency at worst. For gambling companies that want to be able to attract and retain talent, it’s sink or swim time. 

Ellen Monaghan is director of people operations at Gambling.com Group, a multi award-winning performance marketing company with comparison websites for online gambling services around the world.