Flexible working solutions can seem daunting – it’s feels like such a fundamental change to the way that you do things, of course it’s going to be both tricky and turbulent. Perhaps you think that flexible working sounds good – or your staff are beginning to look for different forms of compensation for the work they do – but you’re worried about the impact such a seismic shift could have.
But is your businesses more ready for flexible than you give it credit for? Implementing flexible working doesn’t need to be a sudden and fundamental change. Many progressive firms are where they are because they’ve been making gradual changes over a number of years. We’ve created a quick quiz to test your firm’s flex-preparedness; it’s no substitute for a well-thought-out evaluation of your business’s needs, but it might open your eyes to how close to flexible working you already are.
We’re keeping the rating system as simple as possible. Ask yourself: do I/my company do this already? If you answer with a YES, give yourself 2 points. If it’s a MAYBE (where you kinda-sorta do it but not really, or it’s been on the cards for a while but you’re yet to fully implement) then you get 1 point. A straight NO gets you zip – 0 points.
How culturally prepared is your business for flexible working?
- Your managers focus on quality of output and encourage staff to set their own goals
Your line managers work with your staff to help them set their own goals – based on consensus of what’s realistically achievable in a given time-frame – and have created a strong review process to evaluate and reward success. Staff helped create their own KPIs and stay on top of them throughout the year.
- You’ve already adopted a few digital communication or project management tools, and use most or all of their features…
Teams in your business use shared online platforms to stay in touch, track issues, allocate tasks and share memes feedback on each other’s work. Rather than trying then abandoning tools, or using lots of them for lots of different tasks, your teams have a few they really like and use them for pretty much everything.
- … But you’ve switched off “always on” culture
It’s easy for the demands of work to creep outside of traditional office hours – especially when staff can access their email 24/7. You don’t expect staff to be waiting by their phones at all times – you may even encourage them to switch off when out of the office – even if the demands of your work sector don’t always fit the 9-5. Staff who work extra hours are compensated properly.
- You want your staff to buy in to your mission
It’s not always about the bottom line (most of the time, but not always). You’re serious about your mission and you want your staff to get on board too. You want them to contribute to your culture, evangelise on your behalf and, most importantly, be proud of the work that you do. You know this isn’t a given, and that demanding it won’t get you anywhere, so you’re eager to create a culture that inspires and motivates.
- You trust your staff
Managers don’t freak out when someone isn’t at their desk. Staff can set up their own meetings without supervision. You’re confident that when you set someone a task that they will deliver, and that if they can’t they will talk to you about it before the proverbial hits the fan.
- You’re committed to diversity
You’ve seen the studies, and you know that greater diversity – at all levels, including C-Suite – will bring growth. You’re serious about realising that diversity, and are preparing to hire and support the talent that’s going to transform your business, not just the talent that’s simple to get. And if equality requires a shake-up of the way you operate? Then you’re prepared to commit to that. 👏
- You want to hang on to homegrown talent
You’ve invested in your employees, and you want to benefit from the results. You value development from inside the company over outside hires. You’re prepared to offer the right compensation to stop valued staff from moving on, and you don’t want a change in circumstances to be the reason why a trusted manager has to stop working for you. You recognise that employees have responsibilities and commitments outside of work and are willing to compromise to benefit everyone.
- You’ve tried to come up with fixes for the rush-hour
Probably in vain, but at least you tried! Your business is aware of current events – that includes timetables and transport links – and keeps staff informed of expectations. You aren’t too fussed by tardy staff if you know they’ve done their best to arrive at the mandated time. You’re considering or already have adopted a “core hours” policy to help people work around the rush.
- You set clear boundaries for your clients and partners
Businesses who work with you know when they can contact you and are encouraged not to move outside of these times, so they aren’t frustrated to find key members out of the office or working on another project.
- You’ve thought recently about your sickness policy, and support staff in taking the time they need to recover from illness.
That means people wouldn’t dream of coming into work with the flu, and they probably wouldn’t just volunteer to work from home either; your staff feel confident they can take time off for health reasons without fear of reprisal of falling out of favour. Your sickness policy doesn’t just cover physical health – you’ve given mental well-being consideration too.
All right, so what did you score?
0 – 5
Fair enough, your business isn’t ready for flexible. But a workplace culture this rigid can have severe consequences. Every business is different, but for a company with a score this low we’d expect to see at least a higher-than-average staff turnover, very limited opportunities for new parents and caregivers, and employees who run the risk of burnout. Consider implementing some of questions above as positive changes?
5 – 10
You’re well on your way to a more innovative workplace culture. Now it’s time to ask yourself, what consequences does giving your staff greater autonomy have? Yes it requires change – and yes, it can require some genuine evaluation from line managers – but businesses don’t implement flexible working for convenience’s sake. They do it because it drives growth and success. Take each of the questions above as individual steps and try to determine the net effect each one is having on your business. If those effects are positive, perhaps it’s time to consider why your workplace runs the way it does, and what could be done to improve it.
11 – 15
You’re more prepared for flexible working than perhaps you’ve really considered. If you trust your staff and measure their value by their results, not their proximity to their desk, you’ve already made the greatest attitude shift that flexible working demands. The rest is just details. Have a look at the steps above that you don’t do and consider what value they could bring to your company, and why you’ve been hesitant about implementing them so far. If everything else has brought about positive change, what’s holding you back?
Congratulations, it seems like you’ve done most of the work already! But is your flexible working arrangement an official policy, or more of a “feel-as-you-go” set of arrangements and agreements? Be cautious of inconsistencies or a lack of clarity. If you’re staff aren’t always 100% clear what’s agreed and acceptable you may end up with misunderstandings or staff struggling to make the most of their opportunities (old habits can die hard). If you’re already doing “flexible by proxy” consider codifying things on behalf of your staff; get a proper policy in place. For advice on doing just that, talk to Juggle.