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How to make flexible working work

Looking to the future; as the Covid pandemic situation evolves, how do businesses make flexible and remote working work for them?

Even though many businesses had to transition to homeworking overnight – and have made it work – it’s still important to look to the future and clearly define roles and responsibilities going forward.

Flexible, hybrid, windowed or blended work, whatever you call it, it’s here for the long haul

For those businesses who have used the furlough scheme or transitioning to the new job support scheme, it’s also going to be important to clarify how their new normal will look.

The other factor of course is social distancing. With hot desking and office layouts to be reduced or removed completely it’s not going to be possible to have an office at capacity for the foreseeable future.

It may be that you want your employees to mix and match their time between the office and home
or move the majority to work on a part-time basis. Either way, your staff will need a plan and a structure going forwards.

Defining flexibility:

  • Think about who you need in the office or your site the most and why
  • What can be done remotely on a long term or even permanent basis
  • What communications or IT infrastructure do you need to put in place
  • What internal systems and processes need to change

Rolling-out a flexible working plan or strategy will require a mindset shift and will mean redefining roles to be more effective for this way of working.

The end of the 9 to 5?

According to Direct Line Life Insurance, 13 million brits are set to request flexible working once the pandemic has eased.

It’s clear that traditional work styles are going to have to change during this time and that flexible working will change the hours we work.  In fact, you’ve probably noticed already how differently your colleagues or employees work whilst being at home.

Contracts, pay and HR

First things first; if you don’t already have HR support in-place, then this is the time to get a
professional on board – whether that be a permanent or interim hire.

When an employee moves to working part-time or flexibly, a lot of employers make the common
mistake of reducing an employee’s days or hours, renegotiating salary and then believing that
flexibility has been successfully implemented.

This is not flexible working, this is asking an employee to do a full-time job in less
time and can really alter the dynamic across teams. The employee may potentially feel they’ve been set-up to fail and colleagues could feel overstretched by having to take up the slack, which creates resentment.

Moving employees to a part-time or flexible working arrangement does take time, so do make allowance for negotiation, renewing contracts and, perhaps more crucially, designing the role.

Make sure to note that how the agreed flexibility is communicated can also be an area
prone to pitfalls. There can be a disconnect between what is communicated vs what is understood in a newly defined role, so clarity is crucial.

This is a time of significant change and evolution. Home or remote working does require a different work style and mindset. Some people work better in the mornings, other the evenings, so it’s important to go with that for the time being.

If it’s not having an impact on productivity and output then why change it?

What is important is putting processes in place that, not only work for your employees, but also ensures your business continues to grow and that quality and outputs remain the same.

As experts in flexible working and recruitment contact us to discuss how we can help you navigate the new world of work.