Flexible working arrangements have soared in popularity over the past decade, and with good reason.
Employers benefit from reduced costs, increased worker productivity and better retention, while employees enjoy a boost in morale, reduced stress and greater job satisfaction. It sounds like a win-win for everyone, doesn’t it? Constructed and managed properly, there’s a lot to like about flexible work programs. If you’re considering implementing a flexible work culture at your company, establishing guidelines up front can save you a lot of headaches down the road.
In the following article, we’ll share some best practices to help make your flexible working program its most successful.
Start by thinking outside the box.
When you think of flexible working arrangements, does telecommuting automatically come to mind? According to a 2018 study by FlexJobs, more than 4 million employees work from home at least half of the time, so it’s a very popular solution indeed. But it’s important to remember that working from home is not the only type of flexible work schedule option you may be able to offer. For some industries, such as healthcare and retail for example, it simply isn’t feasible. That’s where it pays to be creative. Coming up with other practical ways to provide flexibility, autonomy and work-life balance can go a long way towards retaining your top performers and keeping them happy. Aside from telecommuting, some other common flexible work solutions include:
- Flex-time: Employees are offered a range of starting and ending times for the workday, with most shifts having a mandatory “core” time in the middle of the day during which everyone works.
- Part-time: Sometimes, situations arise such that your valued employees simply can’t commit to working regular, full-time shifts because of other obligations in their personal or work lives. Giving them the opportunity to work fewer hours for a period of time can pay off in the long run.
- Compressed work weeks:Employees work forty hours in fewer than five days. A ten-hour, four-day week is most commonly used, but other alternatives such as working nine days out of ten in a two-week schedule are also popular.
- Job sharing: Two employees share one position, splitting the responsibility for the work between them.
Avoid the most common pitfalls associated with flexible workplaces.
Once you’ve identified viable scheduling options, it’s time to start planning and implementing. Here are five suggestions to help your organization create a flex work program that maximizes the benefits and reduces the chance of encountering any difficulties.
- Ensure consistency. The inconsistent application of loosely structured flex work policies can cause resentment, poor morale, loss of employees, and even legal action. Develop, prepare and distribute a formal written policy on company flexible work plans that is detailed, clearly stated and non-discriminatory.
- Establish effective communication procedures. One common reason flex work programs fail is the lack of communication. This can easily be avoided by regularly using online team collaboration software such as Slack, Yammer, and various instant messenger programs. Additionally, regularly scheduled check-ins via weekly or monthly group meetings can aid managers in monitoring employees who work remotely. Schedule staff meetings so that all workers can be included in the sharing of information, regardless of their location.
- Create and adhere to productivity metrics. From the start, institute systems for ensuring that flexible work arrangements are productive. It’s important everyone understands that his or her flexible work schedule is predicated upon meeting the established goals and completing all assigned tasks.
- Take a test drive. Before implementing a flexible workplace initiative for the entire organization, consider a pilot program. Working with a couple of key departments for six months or so, run a trial flex program and review the data carefully. This approach gives you the opportunity to identify potential challenges and problems that may arise with your newly implemented flex work arrangements. Once you discover these issues, you can make the necessary adjustments and then roll out the program to the rest of the organization.
- Recognize that some workers may require standard work schedules. Although flex work environments have become widespread, there are employees who will not be successful in this arrangement. Whether they thrive on structure, need the social interaction a traditional schedule provides or are easily distracted by alternative work schedules, some people perform better in a traditional office structure. Consider other perks that you could offer to employees for whom flex work isn’t a good option.
Work-life balance is a big draw for today’s workforce.
As such, you shouldn’t underestimate the power of flexible work policies for attracting and retaining top talent. You can avoid the pitfalls and negative outcomes associated with flex programs by taking the time to plan, test, and evaluate these arrangements carefully.
For over 20 years, The HR Team has been guiding companies through the design and implementation of successful flexible work programs, and we would be honored to help your organization, too. Please reach out to our knowledgeable professionals to learn more.
About The HR Team: Founded in 1996, The HR Team is a Maryland-based human resources outsourcing firm committed to developing strategic, customized solutions that respond to the unique needs and cultures of organizations of all types and sizes. Available as a one-source alternative to an in-house HR department or on an à la carte project basis, the company’s flexible service models address the full spectrum of HR needs that many organizations struggle to address. The HR Team helps clients achieve their highest level of success by providing value-driven human resources services that leave them time to focus on what they do best: directing business growth and profitability. Headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, the firm serves all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. To learn more about The HR Team, call 410.381.9700 or visit https://www.thehrteam.com/.