Your innovative company is considering flexible work shifts, or you’ve been juggling them for years.
Instead of being chained to a desk from 9 to 5, many of your staff are setting their own hours or working remotely (or asking to) – sometimes across time zones. The benefits in employee engagement and satisfaction are tempting. But to make it work for everyone, be ready for all the ups and downs a flex workforce can produce.
Why Be Flexible?
Why do employees want flexible work schedules and environments? The reasons may vary, but a recent survey detailed some key benefits employees want:
74% cite work/life balance
47% time savings and reduced commute stress
43% cost savings
Surprisingly, 61% of employees believe they can be more productive working from home because they avoid the stress of office politics: 59% say productivity would increase with fewer interruptions from colleagues.
Flex is Flexible
A flexible workforce can take many forms. Each can benefit the employee as well as the company.
Staggered start times: avoiding traffic jams/getting the kids to school helps employees: early or late office coverage benefits employers.
Compressed schedules: with options like four 10 hour days, work completed faster allows more off-time for employees: while employers see faster achievement of deadlines.
Job sharing: two part-timers help balance work/life: employers have more than one perspective to get the job done.
Remote workers: minimize travel time/costs for employees: wider access to a variety of workers.
In addition to knowing who’s doing what, when, and where, there are many challenges to managing a flex workforce.
Who’s On First?
Who’s doing what where and when can be confusing. Use a centralized calendar accessible to everyone that includes each staffer’s at-work time. Employees should be able to change it as schedules adjust.
If you can’t look over their shoulder to see they’re working, you’ll need regular check-ins, milestones, and productivity schedules to make sure work is being performed on time. If members of the team are contributing remotely, you’ll need a centralized location for work product updates so everyone can see submissions in a timely manner.
Staying in the Loop
Teams can quickly become disjointed when they’re not in close proximity. Team message boards can help. Posting comments like “client just mentioned they hate purple,” or “we just agreed on eco-friendly, not green” can go a long way to keep everyone up to speed and working cohesively.
Remote workers still need to stay connected to the group. Touch base regularly to make sure they still feel part of the team. Keep in touch personally with a phone or conference call, even if it’s just to say hello.
Balancing multiple schedules can be tough. Collaborating with coworkers around the world sometimes means emails with a time zone lag, or Skyping in your pajamas. Are hourly employees are being compensated for this time? Occasionally touching base with the other side of the planet may be easy to overlook, but if it becomes routine, make sure employees don’t feel taken advantage of if time zone differences begin to affect their home life.
Face to Face
It takes a bit of planning, but everyone who should be in on a decision, or who would be impacted by it, should be in on the meeting that discusses it. Video conferencing is your new go-to tool to keep everyone informed.
Remote Workers Career
It’s easy to overlook that remote workers are also on a career path. We tend to think they’ve got it made and won’t ever leave. But remote workers are looking to enhance their career future as much as their colleagues. Keep the lines of communication open with regard to promotions, options, and future plans.
Have a localized site where everyone can see what’s going on company-wide. Sales just landed a new client? Post it. New hire in graphics? Post it. Someone’s expecting? Post it. Keep away from office gossip, but it’s better to overshare than have flex workers (who weren’t there for birthday cake) feel out of sync with the company community.
If you’re beginning to think flex workers are more than you bargained for, no worries. Kintone has the solution to help manage all these flex worker challenges, and some your team will discover on their own. Find out how we can help you create a successful flex workspace today.
About the Author
Riia O’Donnell has over 20 year’s hands-on experience in all aspects of the Human Resource function. Beginning as a recruiter, she grew to lead in all areas of HR, including employee training and development, legal compliance, benefits administration, compensation evaluation, and staff management. She has been a contributing writer for a wealth of HR, training, and small business websites for the past 7 years.