Guest Blog by Adrian Lewis, Commercial Director for Activ People HR
With today being “National Work From Home Day”, Adrian gives his insight on flexible working and how this can actually benefit businesses.
We like to think that being the authors of Activ People HR, that we could be classed as experts on flexible working as we help businesses get the visibility of their staff when offering flexible working.
However, there is still a huge gap between the number of employees who could benefit from it and the number of employees who are given the option by their employer – and this includes employers who say they offer flexible working, but fail to communicate this to their staff.
How to manage flexible working well is still a big challenge for many companies. Some worry they might end up with no one in the office at certain times if more people work from home or it won’t benefit their company culture – however, successful flexible working isn’t only about trusting employees, it relies on having good support systems, processes and technology in place to ensure everyone knows where everyone is at any one time.
Here are ten practical top tips for companies to ensure successful flexible working.
- Ensure employees know what’s expected of them in terms of activity or performance, especially if they are working at home. Agree how they can be contacted and set expectations around communication – i.e. a daily phone call at the start of the day if working at home.
- Flexible working can mean people coming into the office and leaving at different times. Employees should be made aware that this needs to be done quietly and with minimal disruption as people around them may be working different hours.
- A weekly or monthly work schedule with deadlines should be agreed and it made clear that work must be complete the same as it would under normal working circumstances. Employees must understand they are still part of the team/department and therefore can’t let people down.
- It’s important not lose sight that people still work as part of team no matter how small the organisation and regular team meetings or events should involve everyone, even if this means a degree of flexibility and people coming into the office when they don’t usually. Flexible working works both ways.
- All team members need to know where everyone is at any one time. This should be visible and recorded in a centrally accessible electronic diary that should break down any barriers that prevent the employee being contacted.
- Good communication is essential for flexible working to work successfully and this must be maintained between employee and line manager/teams members – even when working away from the office. Others need to know the employee away from the office is actively busy working.
- Technology is essential – make use of the latest electronic instant messaging tools, including webcams to keep in touch whilst working at home. Working at home can be isolating so this can help maintain an ‘office’ environment – albeit virtual – as well as ensure people are working.
- Working flexibly shouldn’t make a difference in how people are rewarded or praised for tasks done well or completed on time or ahead of schedule. Equally if people are not completing things on time or tasks not done as agreed take time to understand the reason and assess if further support or assistance is required so they do not feel completely isolated
- Don’t forget to include all employees on any electronic communication that includes work news, success/wins, activities, company news to ensure that they still feel part of the organisation and are not forgotten.
- Finally, make a note of any improvements in productivity and wellbeing of employees, as well as any areas that could be causing concern every three months. It’s important to nip any issues in the bud as soon as you can, but also to demonstrate to the business that embracing flexible working has been successful.