5 practical tips for successful flexible working arrangements

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Flexible working is on the increase with more and more employees requesting greater flexibility on where, when and the hours they work.

Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs. This could mean working from home, part-time, compressed hours or job sharing.

The immediate the benefits of flexible working are often focused on improving the work-life balance of the employee however these arrangements can also have a positive impact on productivity. By putting the employee in control, they feel they have a choice over where they work or how long they work for, it engages them more in their role and they are generally happier at work and reduces the likelihood of stress. 

For employers, flexible working arrangements can help reduces tardiness, absenteeism and employee turnover and enhance a company's image as a family-friendly place to work.

Here are 5 practical tips to help employers implement flexible working successfully:

  1. Set expectations. Ensure employees know what’s required of them in terms of performance when they are working at home. It can be difficult to manage performance fairly across full-time and part-time employees and especially if people are working from home regularly. However, working flexibly shouldn't make a difference in how people are rewarded or praised for tasks done well and you should follow the same performance appraisal processes for all employees.

  2. Good communication is essential. Agree how they can be contacted and set expectations around communication. If you need remote working employees to be available to be called or emailed at a specific time, make it clear in advance.

    Equally, it is essential your employee understands that they are not expected to be on call 24-7, if they are working remotely. They should be encouraged to turn off their PC or computer at the end of their working day and switch off work email alerts on their mobile phone.

  3. Actively encourage teamwork and social interaction. A lack of contact with colleagues at the office could limit the cohesiveness of teams and exchange of ideas. Using Instant Messaging or similar apps to help people chat with each other in an informal way. Working at home can be isolating so this can also help maintain an ‘office’ environment – albeit virtually.

  4. Be Inclusive. Don’t forget that people still need to work as part of team 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 or giving them the option to attend meetings virtually.

  5. Transparency is key. All team members need to know where everyone is at any one time. Set up a shared electronic team calendar so that everyone is aware of who is off or working from home and when/ how they can be contacted.

Transitioning to a flexible workplace is challenging, but it is also very rewarding when you get the hang of it. However, in order for a flexible working arrangement to truly work you must learn to trust your staff when they are remote working and let go of micro-management.

If you can learn how to manage flexible workers and give them the autonomy they need, you can achieve much more than you can with the traditional 9-5 approach.