Flexible working has come a long way from its roots. Many businesses now encourage their staff to work flexibly because they recognise that it can be more productive. But what’s the secret to reaping the reward from increased flexibility?
SocialKiwi has a mix of local and remote team members. We’ve invested in the right team for our business and our clients, and we’ve invested in flexible working practices. Here are our top tips for flexible working based on what’s worked for us.
1. Good management is key
The biggest road block to getting work done is bad management. If you want to empower your team to work flexibly, they will need clear direction from you on what you expect them to achieve and when.
Ensure that any flexible working schedule includes regular team catch-ups, WIPs and proactive communication around responsibilities and timelines. If everyone’s working towards the same common goal it doesn’t matter if they’re in different places: things should get delivered.
2. Ramp up the communication
As a team, working flexibly means focusing on keeping everyone in the loop. If your whole team works the same hours and is based in an office together, it’s easy to see when someone is at work. If you’re working different hours or in different locations, you will need to come up with a system that lets everyone know who is available and when.
That means if you’re not working you need to let people know. Just as it’s important that your team and your clients understand when you are working and are available to be contacted. Transparency will help you to ensure that flexibility doesn’t get in the way of doing good business.
3. Consider experience levels
If you would prefer your team to be working in the same office space then introducing flexible working may require a leap of faith. That leap is going to be easiest to manage with experienced staff who know what they are doing.
New team members who are still learning are more likely to need to be in the office. Consider the experience level of your team member carefully before proceeding with flexible working in the short term. They may need more support and a little up-skilling first.
4. Don’t think where, think when
Flexible working requires a shift from thinking about where work gets done to thinking about when it gets done. An effective flexible worker manages their to do list and delivers on time: wherever or whenever they work. That’s probably why flexible working works well in partnership with a task-oriented mindset.
Flexible working may vary from one employee to the next, so it’s important to adapt to varying needs. Some employees will enjoy the flexibility of being able to work early in the morning when they’re at their most energised; while others may prefer to work from home for a day or two a week, to deal with work that requires a greater level of focus.
5. The right flexibility for the right job
Some jobs are more open to flexible working than others. It’s important to be realistic about the requirements of a role before embracing flexibility in either hours or location. For example, there’s no way your company receptionist can work from home if the function of the role is greeting guests when they enter your office.
Time flexibility is easier to achieve if you can consider the impact on the whole team and how you can support each other for the maximum benefit to the business. It’s worth bearing in mind that an amazing experienced employee who is only available from 10 until 2 can probably achieve more than a less skilled employee who’s present all day.
In today’s workplace it’s not necessary to sit next to someone to be part of the same team. If, like SocialKiwi, you decide to embrace flexible working you may be able to open the door to a more diverse talent pool and a world of opportunities.
Flexible working is just one of the ways that businesses can adapt to the needs of their workforce. It can be a great tool with which to contribute to a positive, task-focused work environment with a team who are all pushing towards the same common goals.