How to make a success of Flexible Working
10 December 2018

Life-work balance – flexible working – remote working

Flexible working can be applied to many job roles, but not all. For example some office or factory roles will need the employee to be on site at the place of work.

What do employees want and how should they adapt?

Studies suggest that around 70% of British office workers feel more productive working away from the office. 38% say they are more creative out of the office, and 90% say flexible working doesn't impact their ability to collaborate with colleagues.

Switching to flexible working can be done over a period of time. If you have spent the last five years of your life coming to the same place at the same time, then suddenly finding yourself with a choice (and a bagful of kit) can be rather daunting.

In the event an organisation wants to change to flexible working, being really clear on why the company wants to do this should help staff ease into the new way of working and plan the best use of their time at each of the different locations.

How closely do you need to manage employees who work like this?

The immediacy of 21st century communications has built something of an instant response culture, so many employees tend to communicate once they have left the workplace for the day. That’s OK from time to time, but you do need to ensure that employees get a proper break.

If employees are sufficiently committed then a flexible approach will make your business an attractive place to work; allowing employees to take responsibility for meeting a deadline, but also allowing take a little time off during the day to attend an event with a family member, and not have to drive into the office at night to catch up.

Some individuals won’t respond well to flexible working, or might need some guidance around how to approach it. Modern technology makes communication between flexible teams much easier – particularly with apps like Skype – so managing them becomes far more possible.

Set clear targets and feedback regularly

In the end, people working flexibly will be tested on results. If everyone is working towards a clear set of measureable targets that are being reported against, it makes it much easier for teams to see what is being accomplished and by who.

Produce a weekly summary of what the team are working on and outline the priorities for the week ahead. This will give people across the company a clear idea of what you’re are all doing. In larger companies this could work on a team basis, in smaller ones it could be a whole-organisation meeting.

Managers still need to be there

People who work remotely for long periods of time without any other interactions with their manager or team can experience a feeling of isolation.

Understand how each employee is approaching remote working - you’ll probably find there are some individuals that need a bit more support than others, especially in the early stages. Although you’ll probably communicate less frequently, make sure every interaction counts and don’t forget your duty to support those you line manage.

Organise team gatherings, where possible, to cultivate a team spirit.

Be clear on what is and isn’t allowed

Ensure you have a clear policy for homeworkers, including things like regular reporting and the need for a secure and separate office space etc.

Create a clear policy for expenses. If staff are often working away in hotels the company needs to be clear about what they will pay for regarding food and drink.

Be positive and consult with employees

For flexible working to be successful it needs to become part of the company culture and not just because changing legislation says so.

If there are any workers sceptical about the new approach, encourage the staff who do champion it to speak with them and reinforce the positives.

It is important though to consult and listen to any concerns or feedback. No employee wants to feel he is being ‘kicked out’ of the office without a chance to put is views forward.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2023 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.