Flexible working is becoming increasingly popular in the current economic scenario as companies try to optimize costs. Giving your team more flexibility to choose the hours and location of work can increase motivation and productivity. Companies can then sublet or relinquish leases. Sounds like a win-win situation all round, sadly that's not always the case. So let's look at some of the strategies being used.
Working from home: The ultimate flexible solution for many people, especially those with young families or who live a long way from the office. With more people having working space in their homes why provide office space for them?
When they do need to come into the office, hoteling and hot desk strategies are becoming increasingly popular:
- Hoteling: Like booking a room in a hotel, individuals and teams can book a desk or area. An arrangement of this type can be for a period of hours, days or weeks. It can be used for a specific task, or for normally disparate teams working on a project.
- Hot Desks: This can be a useful approach for people who need to come into the office infrequently. Known as 'touch-down desks,' any desk can be used by any individual - they are completely interchangeable. Smaller desks are used and density is increased, reducing the overall space requirement.
- Remote Meetings: Webinars, conference calls and video conferencing are becoming increasingly common. Not travelling to a central location for meetings is good for the environment and saves you time. Also the amount of meeting room space you need is reduced.
How to make sure Flexible Working Practices work!
Communicate, communicate, and communicate.
Include your employees in discussions about the different strategies for flexible working - how to best use space and time. Involving them ensures their active engagement and shared responsibility in making it work.
Ensure your teams meet regularly in the office to reduce feeling of isolation.
Managers must be adequately trained in the management of remote workers. Without this you run the risk of alienating your employees, reducing morale and productivity.
Clearly define work targets and discuss them with your team. Clear and regular communication with your colleagues and employees results in seamless, cohesive and successful working practices.
Use instant messaging as a way to stay in touch NOT as a way to check up on them! Used in a supportive manner this is a way to easily stay in touch without clogging up your inbox.
Working in a sustainable, environmentally sound, and flexible way can reduce costs, improve morale, efficiency and productivity. To ensure success Flexible Working Practices need to be introduced in a collaborative and measured way.
Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements:
1. Helps employers attract, recruit and retain workers in tight labour market.
2. Enables employers to widen their potential recruitment pool to tap on employees of different demographic profiles and work experience and become more nimble in manpower deployment
3. FWAs enables employees to balance their work and personal commitments. Help employees to be more engaged and productive with increased business results and productivity for the company. The more the employees are engaged in the company and feel appreciated, nurtured and trusted, the more they go the extra mile for the company’s success.
4. Reduced healthcare costs, absenteeism and medical leave arising from burn out.
Streamlining your resources seems a simple way to maximize your financial return and there is the added environmental benefit that can increase your green credentials.
So why should we care if our employees are happy about the changes? We all have to make sacrifices at the moment, don't we? When confidence is reduced productivity is reduced, absenteeism and staff turnover increases. How much would just a 1% rise in staff absenteeism or a 1% decrease in the income generated by your employees cost your business? Productivity can be increased when there is flexible work and are no longer bothered by trivial interruptions. We make more efficient use of our time when we no longer feel the need to be 'seen at work' or filling time to fulfil hours in the office.
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