When flexible working works well, it truly works, and that’s not just a tongue twister, it’s a real joy for everyone involved.
It’s popular too. In a recent survey of 10,000 employees, 95% of them said they wanted flexible hours, a potentially telling sign of today’s rapidly evolving workplace.
For those who have not yet explored the prospect of reshaping the working day, it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore the immense benefits that a flexible approach can provide.
Employees get the chance to develop a better work-life balance, owners can reduce overheads, the chance of burnout can diminish, and even productivity can shoot upwards.
It’s certainly not without its issues to overcome, but nothing in the world of business ever is. There are plenty of elements to mull over, from a lack of managerial trust to barren office spaces and insufficient tech.
If you feel as though now is the right time for your own organisation to embrace flexible working, here’s how to make it a success.
1. Adopt the Right Tech
First off, without the right tech, your infrastructure will have no hope of supporting a flexible workforce, no matter how much you trust in your team’s talents.
You need to utilise the right hardware, software, team members, and documentation and communication systems in order for your workforce to thrive.
Tech needs to be able to support you, not hold you back, which is why a personalised approach is the best way to go when it comes to building an infrastructure.
Many business owners choose to outsource certain aspects of their technical needs in this regard, some of the more common elements being payroll management, cybersecurity, website development, and of course, communication.
It’s worth asking yourself some questions to ensure that you cover the basics, such as:
- Are my employees using the right devices? If your employees are using their own unsecured devices to access your network, you may be putting your company at unnecessary risk. Perhaps you should think about getting them work-specific encrypted devices.
- Is my current system working to full effect? By conducting a tech audit, you can see exactly what needs to be improved upon.
- Is my team able to carry out their responsibilities? In order for your team to work flexibly, they need to be able to communicate, collaborate, easily access your company network and benefit from the right level of support.
The right tech is essential, as it provides the very foundations required to build a connected, streamlined, flexible workspace.
2. Bring Company Culture Online
A toxic company culture can make the working day a hellish and mentally strenuous experience, and hopefully, it’s an atmosphere you’ve strived hard to avoid creating.
Conversely, a great company culture can lead to a wonderful working environment, even in the virtual sense.
A good company culture applies to the virtual world as much as the physical one, so putting measures in place to ensure you work on developing a happy, healthy, flexible working space is critical to success.
To help you do this, you could set up regular virtual social events for your staff, like Friday meetups or even an online cocktail party if that’s the vibe.
Honesty and transparency are vital factors to introduce to the flexible workspace, as a huge amount of trust is likely to ensure the autonomy and effectiveness of your workforce.
The management needs to set an example and treat their workers with the utmost respect at all times.
Encouraging togetherness is crucial in developing a flexible workspace that accommodates everyone. Just because it’s flexible, doesn’t mean it’s fractured. In fact, a cohesive flexible workforce is a power to be reckoned with.
3. Work on Employee Engagement Rates
Employee engagement is an important part of what makes an effective and productive workforce. Without it, employees may start to become disillusioned over time, leading to burnout, walkouts, or general disarray among the staff.
Flexible working can naturally improve employee engagement, as it offers them the chance to work on their own work-life balance, among other reasons.
However, introducing methods to drive employee engagement is still essential, and it can be done by recognising the hard work your individual staff members do. People deserve to be recognised for their hard work. It makes them feel valued, it gives them purpose, and helps them take pride in their work. Many organisations throughout the pandemic have begun to adopt employee recognition programs to create a dedicated space where appreciation can take place, especially as opportunities for passing positive comments become rarer as we spend more time away from shared working spaces.
You could also think about conducting regular pulse surveys to get an idea of what your employees are thinking, how they feel about their current situation and any feedback that could help you optimise your processes and put the needs of your team first.
If your employees are struggling to engage in a flexible work setting, it’s always worth asking them for their feedback. Your employees’ voices are important, and they always deserve to be heard and taken seriously.
4. Focus on Positive Outcomes
What’s more important to you as a manager? Is it seeing everyone working at a desk, or is it achieving results? Hopefully, you picked the latter.
By switching your focus to results rather than what an office should or shouldn’t look like, you’re essentially always keeping your ultimate goal as a company in sight.
You can use your results to measure how far you’ve come and inform processes rather than hold them back.
5. Offer Staff Training
By offering your employees continuous training opportunities, you can start to upskill your workforce and hopefully reduce any kind of digital skills gap over time.
For a workforce to thrive, they need to be confident and knowledgeable, and this can be hard to do if a rapidly evolving working world is constantly mixing up the modern landscape.
Training is an ideal way of making sure everyone is operating at the same level or finding out who needs some more help.
You may even find that this saves you money in the long run, while at the same time, your staff loyalty increases.
For your flexible working to be a success, your employees’ needs must be met. Often, this means providing them with the tools, space, and support they require to flourish under a new system.