Tips for Shifting to a Flexible Work Environment

By August 8, 2019For Companies

Is your human resources department looking to update your benefits package? Do you struggle to attract top talent to your company? Are you looking for new solutions to promote a more engaging work environment?

Flexible work options could be the solution that puts your company above your competitors. Flexible work has already been implemented by many enterprise companies, small businesses and every type of organisation in between. One recent poll found that 55% of the hiring managers questioned believe remote work is the new status quo, expecting up to 38% of their full-time employees to make use of these benefits by the end of the next decade.

As with any company-wide change, shifting to flexible work policies might seem like a time-consuming and overwhelming project. Without the proper policies, tools and employee mindset, your business may struggle to reap the benefits that flexible work, when successfully executed, can yield. To help you migrate to a flex-friendly work environment, we’ve outlined some preliminary tips that your HR team can reference to properly adjust to this new work style.

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  1. Update your employee handbook

When was the last time you made an adjustment to your employee handbook? Updating your work protocol is no easy feat, but for the sake of accountability and liability, you should start with adding a remote work addendum to your handbook and sharing it in a place where employees at all levels can access. By recording your company policy before actually rolling out your new policies, you’ll also find it much easier to gain approval from your firm’s upper management and leadership teams.

Flexible work benefits are all about freedom—the freedom to choose when you work, where you work and what projects you focus on. With that in mind, it’s important to consider the limitations of flexible work to ensure a healthy balance between employee wants and employer needs.

Some questions you may consider in your flexible work policy include:

  • Who is eligible for flexible work?

  • How long should employees have to work at your company before they are given the opportunity to flex their hours?

  • How will you measure productivity when team members work outside of the office?

  • Is there a certain window of time each day where employees are expected to be available?

  • Is there a maximum number of hours that employees can flex each week?

  1. Explore communication solutions

Perhaps the greatest flexible work challenge your teams will encounter is effective communication. Even outside of remote work, only 15% of employees believe that their workplace fosters successful internal communication. This begs the question: with limited opportunities to speak face-to-face with remote team members, how do businesses ensure that flexible work does not get in the way of effectively sharing ideas, concerns and problems as they arise?

Outdated phone systems, computer hardware and inefficient software may work for businesses not looking to offer flexible work, but researching new communication solutions could make all the difference when attempting to turn policy into reality. Your flex workers could be anywhere in the world—at their home office a few blocks down or overseas for a business meeting—which makes it unreasonable to expect them to lug around physical business tools, like a phone set or extra monitor as they travel from workspace to workspace.

To make moving where you work as simple as stowing away a laptop and charger, several businesses have converted to cloud-based solutions. So long as you have an internet connection, the cloud allows you to access your work databases, update your team workflows and even conduct phone calls, both internally and externally. This technological leap from hardwired phone lines to cloud-based voice calls is called Voice over IP, and learning about the many benefits of VoIP is a great preliminary step for businesses seeking to upgrade to remote-friendly solutions.

  1. Recruit with the flexible worker in mind

Older members of the workforce are accustomed to rigid, structured work schedules, but Millennials and Gen Z’ers—who have known nothing but flexibility and who bring their tech-savviness to the negotiation table—often see flexible work policies as a major deciding factor between working for you and working for your competitor.

As many as 92 percent of Millennials consider flexible work arrangements as a top priority when searching for new positions. Younger individuals in the workforce have a tendency to value a work-life balance that allows them to define their own schedules, portion their work hours between appointments, vacations and lunches with friends, even going so far as to prioritize flexibility over a higher starting salary.

For recruiters and HR teams, this means that flex benefits can be used as a powerful recruitment tool for attracting younger, more energetic candidates to your company. Flexible work helps present your company brand as being employee friendly and up-to-date on modern business practices.

Tangentially, when given the opportunity to offer remote work benefits, recruiters also expand their candidate pool to one with a global reach. Companies that rely on only in-office staff often are forced to narrow their scope and reach to the surrounding local area, which means they may not be hiring the best talent available.

  1. Help flexible team members stay connected

As your employees spend a portion of their 40 hours outside of the office, they may also feel isolated, ignored and less valued, despite all of the work they’re contributing. A higher percentage of remote workers believe that their in-office team makes changes to projects without informing them, place low value priorities on remote workers and team up against those who can’t represent themselves in person.

That’s why your company should make a conscious effort to help those off-site stay connected. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you need to input more resources and energy to promote connection and has more to do with your company’s perceptions of remote help (and the immense potential value that they can provide).

If your calendar features events that only happen in the office, see if you can find a way to also include remoter workers, such as arranging a video conference. To replicate the coffee runs that your in-office team enjoys so often, send a gift card to flexible workers to encourage them to get out of the office for a quick, restorative break. Even small gestures like asking remote staff for their final thoughts at the end of meetings can go a long way toward fostering a highly connected and collaborative work environment.

Serina Fishk is a Communications Specialist who spends her time writing on company culture and other workplace trends. Her specific focus and area of interest is new HR practices that businesses can use to better manage current resources and new talent.

Author Serina Fishk

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