‘Flexible’ or ‘agile’ working has been heralded as the new way to create efficient workplaces and retain key talent. By switching up the locations for the daily grind, workers can get more out of their daily work and this can create a more creative and enjoyable work/life balance.
However, how much flexibility do you give your employees? How do you balance creating a high performing team while giving employees the flexibility they want
Here are a few tips to help you ride the flexible working wave and ensure that your team is both productive and motivated.
For flexible working to function properly there has to be clear detailed rules which everyone in the office agrees on. One of the principles of flexible working is to move away from the ‘hub’ (the conventional office) to the home and roaming (which is anywhere that isn’t the office or home).This allows employees to work in their favourite café like their 20th-century Parisian heroes or at home watching urban foxes in their tiny garden, this can do wonders for mental wellbeing but without some careful managing can create a disconnect between manager and team.
However, what if everyone worked from home every Monday and Tuesday the working week would go off to a slow start. We would recommend creating a plan, where all employees need to be in the office for key meeting and team building exercises.
- Keep your team updated
Keeping your team in the know about the direction the company is going in, whether it be in the long term or the short term, can be difficult. Flexible working might make this even more challenging, especially when you aren’t sharing the same air in the office. Managers cannot rely on guesswork to understand how employees are doing and vice versa with employees and the company. Online collaboration tools can be an interesting and advanced way in keeping in touch and making sure that everyone is on the same page.
- Flexible working makes weekly team meetings even more important: Without passing your fellow colleagues in the corridor or on the way to lunch it is difficult to know how exactly your team is doing. Flexible working can impact each individual in a different way and is important for teams to come together to discuss it. Team meetings also encourage employees to reflect on how their week was and take a few minutes to address their own productivity.
Weekly team meetings can be used as a brilliant way to check in with your team members and to set objectives with them, within specific timeframes.
- Keep your team creative and innovative
Some employees may express that they find it challenging working in alternative locations and miss the ‘water-cooler moments’ at work or even the physical community of working together in an office. It may be difficult to create or maintain social connections. As a manager you can organise creative meetings outside the office and non-work related social events. Keeping your team connected allows them to bounce ideas off each other and work together to find solutions for problems.
- Embracing smarter work/ life balance
Flexible working represents the movement towards a “smarter” view of work. Be careful to make sure that flexible working does not become an excuse for employees to be constantly on-call or for them to do nothing at all. Setting defined working hours for each individual separates work from home life but also gives guidelines for productivity.
In summary, to make flexible work “work”, you need to embrace giving employees more options and the technology they need to make the transition work. However, employees also need to understand the flexible working does not mean they just do what they want, they need to keep to some simple rules to ensure that work is truly flexible rather than brittle.