How to make flexible working work for your office
Claire Huish discusses the need for employers to be a little more flexible when it comes to working practices.
Reading time: 4 minutes.
They say the 9 to 5 is dead. I think it’s a little more nuanced than that and it’s fair to say the way we work has shifted dramatically in the past decade. Employee lifestyles have changed and the daily reliance on technology, particularly mobile phones and tablets, means our working and personal time can often blend together.
Research into health and wellbeing has massively impacted our views on productivity. As such, we need to champion flexibility and results over pure input or presenteeism; this shapes the way modern companies do business. But how do you ensure this flexible way of working...works?
Choose productivity over presenteeism
An individual doesn’t need to be chained to their desk for eight hours a day to get their work done. In fact, this can often lead to increased stress, reduced performance and disengagement. Managers and employers should instead focus on results rather than time input.
Often our commitment to having colleagues present and accounted for means we place more importance on them showing up than we do on what gets done. This creates an environment in which employees feel they must be continually present and can often lead to team members turning up when they are unwell, taking work home and working late, all of which negatively impacts productivity.
Managers and employers should focus on results rather than time input.
Providing a little leeway can reframe the working paradigm to focus purely on results and outcomes rather than time spent at work. Not only does this make for a much clearer understanding of workplace productivity, it also helps to shift away from the outdated model that being present is the be all and end all.
Flexibility doesn’t just mean working from home
Flexible working isn’t limited to working remotely. It can include starting later so that parents can drop kids to school, job sharing with colleagues and receiving time off in lieu. It’s key to remember that not everyone will be on the same schedule or in the same location so it either needs to be a universal practice for all or based upon individual needs and predicaments.
It’s about autonomy and trusting colleagues to make the best decision for them; supporting their lifestyles and allowing them to work when, where and how it suits them, is fine, provided they can complete what needs to be done.
Maintain company culture
Flexible working, when used in a considered manner can work wonders, however, without regular interaction(s) or face-to-face connection with colleagues, it can be easy for individuals to feel disconnected from their companies. Even if the desire for flexible working stems from the employee themselves, it is still up to employers to ensure remote workers feel part of the company and its culture.
Sometimes it isn’t feasible to spend time in the office so it’s important to cultivate a strong working culture so that employees feel connected to their purpose as part of a greater whole, especially when they’re remote working.
Flexible workers shouldn’t feel any less connected to the company than anyone else and with the modern workplaces boasting multiple ways to reach remote workers, there’s simply no excuse.
As well as supporting company cultures, flexible working goes a long way to defining it too. A company which values its employee’s time and makes efforts to support their lifestyle has already established a key element of its culture, so share it widely.
Let colleagues know that you’ve considered their individual needs and that you’re taking steps to ensure everyone has a productive and fruitful working life.
Make going to work worthwhile
If there’s no need for employees to be allocated a specific desk, eat lunch at the same time or work the same exact hours, then why make it a rule?
If, however, there is a beneficial reason to physically being in the workplace, people will gravitate towards it. For example, you could host pop-up activations, events and socials as part of your hospitality and workplace wellbeing service to clients in order to give their employees a tangible reason to visit the office.
People should want to come to work, so it makes sense to offer them something they can’t get anywhere else. Whether that is access to mentors, changing food menus, a lively workplace bar, pop-up experiences or even just a great place to grab coffee with a co-worker, you want to add value to employee lifestyles rather than force them to fit a template.
You’ll get far more out of your colleagues, plus they’ll be happier and more engaged while doing it.
About the author
Claire Huish is colleague services manager at Bennett Hay
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