"Lessons from the lockdown" - A discussion on flexible working and mental health


Real Estate Balance held a webinar panel discussion on flexible working and mental health hosted by Avison Young on 21 May 2020.

On Thursday 21 May 2020, Real Estate Balance held its first webinar, "Lessons from the lockdown: A discussion on flexible working and mental health".

The webinar panel comprised of:

Jason Sibthorpe, Principal and President, UK, Avison Young
Martina Malone, Managing Director, Head of Global Capital Raising, Prologis
Geoffrey Shaw, Director, BlackRock (Chair)
Lucy Alderson, Journalist, EG

The COVID-19 lockdown has pushed us to re-evaluate our own views and perceptions of flexible working and mental health.

The session was a lively and frank conversation about issues affecting everyday working lives in light of the COVID-19 lockdown and Mental Health Week May 2020.

The panel navigated through some challenging topics chaired by Geoffrey Shaw, considering difficult questions such as:

  • Will the COVID-19 lockdown finally break the negative views people have of working from home and a "cult of presenteeism"?
  • As flexible working arrangements increase in popularity, will women be at a greater level of disadvantage if they are shouldering a greater degree of childcare at home?
  • Should companies do more to actively encourage a cultural change whereby fathers choose to take paternity leave, instead of discarding this statutory benefit due to a fear of jeopardising their career prospects?
  • How do we deal with "distance bias"? How can we make sure a person working more flexibly does not miss out on the opportunities that someone who is in the office and more visible is more likely to get?
  • Could an increase in flexible working result in employees working for longer than they would have in the office?

There was common consensus that business leaders are role-models for employees and have the power to affect both cultural and societal change. With technological advances and the COVID-19 lockdown breaking down a common assumption that there is a direct correlation between low productivity and working from home, employers now have the ability to provide a level of flexibility and agility to employees that previously would have been inconceivable. However, key to implementing such change is clear communication.