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How to embrace a truly flexible workplace

Flexible workplace arrangements are a top priority for businesses and employees, but they are still proving a headache for many business leaders and HR professionals.  Flexible working is about giving employees power over their work schedules, and that can play out in many ways. One of the benefits of flexible working is increased job satisfaction as employees are able to balance their work and personal commitments more effectively. This can lead to a happier and more motivated workforce, which is likely to be more productive and engaged. Our Remote Working Report in late 2022 found that a large majority of employees are keen to retain some flexibility around work, with 88% of employees wanting to work more remotely.
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Flexible workplace arrangements are a top priority for businesses and employees, but they are still proving a headache for many business leaders and HR professionals. 

Flexible working is about giving employees power over their work schedules, and that can play out in many ways.

One of the benefits of flexible working is increased job satisfaction as employees are able to balance their work and personal commitments more effectively. This can lead to a happier and more motivated workforce, which is likely to be more productive and engaged. A report* found that a large majority of employees are keen to retain some flexibility around work, with 88% of employees wanting to work more remotely.

Allowing team members to take a flexible approach to work is one of the most high-impact decisions employers can make to help employees, especially working parents. Easing the rigidity of the 9-5 and in-office standard can be transformative for teams. It’s a clear way to show your understanding that parenting doesn’t have a set timeframe. Remote working can help parents better approach school schedules, their kids’ needs and their workloads.

Having this flexibility often helps reduce interruptions in the workday, as parents aren’t having to leave work for parenting duties, losing time to the commute. If a child is sick and needs to stay home from school, parents can work from home instead of being forced to take leave.

By allowing employees to work when and where they are most productive, employers can ensure that their workforce is making the most of their time. For example, employees who are able to work from home may be able to avoid long commutes or work outside of traditional office hours when they are most productive. This, in turn, can lead to increased output and better results for the business. 

There are a few things you need to keep in mind to make sure truly flexible working supports both your employees and your business.

1. Put trust at the heart of flexible working
Trust in your team goes hand-in-hand with flexible working. We’d even argue that effective flexible working is not possible without it. Your employees want to see your business thrive. They understand that they have goals and deadlines to hit, and they don’t need to be monitored in order to complete these tasks.

Focusing on output instead of hours, keeping lines of communication up and being transparent about expectations can help everyone feel empowered. The happiest workforce is one where each person feels like they belong

2. Get the technology right
Technology is great, but only when it works. If you are going to have a flexible workplace, then you need to have the tools to make it work. You don’t want to spend the first 15 minutes of every meeting or chat trying to hear each other.

3. Communication is key for a flexible workplace
Over-communication is critical to making it work. This means as a team, members can assign tasks quickly and easily to each other and understand what each other is working on from anywhere in the world.

4. Set clear objectives in your flexible workplace
There are many reasons why you should measure people on objectives rather than output. When measuring the output of remote work, you shouldn’t worry about where your team works from as long as you see progress towards your team objectives. Focusing on objectives allows your team to work when and where they are most productive, and it forms a framework for having conversations when things fall behind.

5. Check-ins are sacred
Having direct time with your team during one-to-one meetings allows you to discuss anything that might be unclear and raise any concerns about objectives. Ensure you keep communication channels open and be open to any suggestions from your team members. 

To manage a flexible team, it’s important to get your tech in order, determine how you will manage and keep track of your team and set up a meeting cadence that suits your company objectives and team workflow.

Employers who are able to adapt to the changing needs of their employees and offer truly flexible working arrangements will be better placed to attract and retain top talent, increase productivity, and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

*Remote Working Report in late 2022

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