Many organisations do not identify themselves as “flexible”.
However when we explore their organisational setup and culture further, we find that most are indeed flexible in their working culture and all is missing are formal policies. Employees in these flexible organisations are brand ambassadors. They speak highly to prospective employees in interviews and in social situations.
In a flexible working culture…
… business leaders visibly balance home and work responsibilities thereby encouraging others to do the same.
A CEO of a high profile venture backed startup of 80 people manages an extremely demanding work schedule. He also juggles family responsibilities. He frequently spends time with his family in the late afternoon/early evening, after which he turns his attention back to work.
Although this CEO works the same (if not more) hours than most executives of high growth technology companies, this is not a typical schedule for someone in his position. He has carved out this schedule because family is an enriching part of his life.
His working rhythm is visible and his dedication to both work and life feeds down to the employees. By having a male role model committed to both work and home, the men in the business realise it is culturally acceptable to have family time too. Unsurprisingly, staff turnover in this organisation is low, and productivity high!
… business leaders have a high comfort level of using technology to collaborate rather than relying only on face-to-face interactions.
High profile business adopters of flexible working such as Buffer have given the distributed organisations structure some positive press in recent years. Consequently it is growing in popularity. However companies built in a purely distributed fashion are realising that the old methods of communication do not work, as they rely on an office environment and face-to-face osmosis.
Marketing-tech business Convertri is completely distributed. They have built, and rely upon, robust processes to ensure staff are pulling together. To avoid any ambiguity, they over-communicate both important and trivial messages amongst the team. It gives everyone confidence they are being kept in the loop, building a trusting environment – a defining characteristic of high performing teams.
… business leaders do not attach any significance to specific office arrival or departure times.
CTO of Juggle Jobs Colin Howe is a self-confessed early riser and encourages his team to become cognisant of their own energy levels, ensuring the highest level of productivity:
“I am most focused in the morning and so I plan my day to tackle big problems between 8am-12pm. I can work long hours no problem, and that is what is needed in a startup! However I’m no use to anyone, least of all myself between about 4-5pm so I use that time to cycle home avoiding the rush hour traffic.
In my experience, the best engineers are those that really understand their own energy levels and find a working schedule to suit them. Aside from a few, fixed-term appointments, the engineers at Juggle have free reign to manage their schedules with the aim of becoming as high performing and productive as possible.”
Ultimately in a flexible-working culture, there is a high degree of trust and respect on BOTH sides.
Conversely, you may have a poor flexible working culture if…
… business leaders are always present in the office.
Where leaders work from early in the morning until late in the evening, there is often an implicit expectation of others to follow this example. No business leader should apologise for having a hard working culture. However if 50+ hour weeks are a regular occurrence, something is amiss with resourcing and morale will undoubtedly suffer. Organisations with long working hours often have problems with gender diversity too, and that just isn’t good for the top line!
… remote workers work longer hours than office workers.
Look out for remote workers showing a greater volume of communication on internal chat channels. This is often overcompensation for the lack of face-to-face interactions. It is simply of a case of presentism appearing in digital format.
As in the case of the worker present in the office at 8pm (whilst on Facebook for 2 hours of the day) it REALLY doesn’t mean they’re working harder – they’re just anxious to be noticed.
For flexible working, culture trumps policy
Flexible working is more than a series of policies – the paperwork is easy, whilst the cultural change can be hard. Employees need to see the culture being lived out by senior leaders in order to feel empowered to work in the way that best suits them to deliver value.
Do the above statements resonate with your business and the way employees go about their daily work? If so the chances are that you’re under-selling yourself as a potential employer by not emphasising flexibility in your hiring strategy.
Over 80% of candidates look at an employer’s flexible working policy when thinking about applying. 40% would actually choose flexible working over a pay rise. By explicitly adding the magic words ‘flexible working encouraged’ you could open up a vast swathe of candidates you may not previously have been able to reach.
Or better still, let Juggle vouch for you and represent your business with our highly-experienced candidate pool, each of whom prioritise a flexible working culture.
If all you need to fine-tune your flexible working culture is the paperwork, pop over to our other post for suggestions on creating flexible working policies.