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Source: University of Waikato

Big changes could be on the horizon for traditional employment models as New Zealand businesses navigate Covid-19, says professional director and University of Waikato MBA graduate, Tina Jennen.

Jennen, who sits on the boards of six New Zealand organisations that operate in commercial, philanthropic and social sector services, says Covid-19 is causing businesses to review how they organise their working environment, which could alter traditional employment models.

Jennen says many businesses are discovering they may not need the physical office space or specialised in-house teams they have traditionally relied on, and this could mean changing the way employees work.

“A number of general managers, or CEOs in both not-for-profit and for-profit sectors, are saying they don’t know if they will need the same level of infrastructure they had been accustomed to previously,” says Jennen.

“They don’t need a specialised office space, they could work more collaboratively, work with people, and allow integration to happen,” she says.

Jennen says Covid-19 is also a chance for employees to think about opportunities like portfolio careers, which could see them work part-time for more than one company, rather than using traditional employment models.

“The reality is we live in a digital world. We already have a lot of infrastructure to work remotely – we’ve just never been forced to be in a situation like where we are now. It’s really flipping a few things upside down.”

Jennen says businesses she has spoken to were seriously looking at different ways of working and saving money on infrastructure, which means they could repurpose money within their businesses to help more people.

She had some caution for businesses viewing Covid-19 as an opportunity to reset however, saying their thinking needed to come from a clear understanding of their identity and purpose, which would put them in a good place to be resilient in the face of the economic shock caused by Covid-19.

“Understanding who they are, and how identity defines their purpose, will help them stay resilient.

“Businesses need to be sure they are thinking about the right things, then make sure they’re rolling that out in their organisations from an operational, policy, strategic and governance standpoint,” she says.

Jennen says alongside businesses reviewing the way they work, employees and people thinking of studying or retraining should also use Covid-19 as an opportunity to get really clear on who they are, their purpose and what value they wanted to create in the world.

“If we understand our identity and purpose and how it relates to our skills, there are great opportunities available.  There are global networks everywhere, many you can find just by logging into the internet,” says Jennen.