Top Ten Tips for... Introducing Flexible Working
If you were given the choice between working from home or receiving a pay rise – which would you choose? It’s a tricky one, isn’t it? Salaries of course are important but our work/life balance and the environment we work in is perhaps more so because it’s what motivates us to return to work every day.
Whether you like to log in from your local coffee shop or library, at home while in your pyjamas or love the freedom to work out of hours, flexible working can really help to boost moral and job satisfaction as well we productivity.
With an ageing population it’s also needed more so than ever before for people who care for others as well as work.
If you are considering introducing flexible working to your workplace, here are our Top Ten Tips:
1. Engage with your colleagues first
Finding out what your colleagues want from flexible working is really important. Forcing a certain way of working on your colleagues without engaging and involving them in the process won’t work because they won’t necessarily feel invested in the process. Your colleagues may inspire you with lots of new ideas about how it can be introduced and fine-tuned to suit your needs too.
2. Consider the right time
January is traditionally a time when we reflect on our health and wellbeing and what we can do to change things for the better. Helping your colleagues to improve their work/life balance through flexible working is just one example. Alternatively, you might choose to introduce your flexible working arrangements in April to start the new financial year. Or you could consider a staggered programme where different departments have an alternate start date for their flexible working. This would reduce the burden on your IT and HR teams and allow for any issues to be identified along the way.
3. Set clear objectives
Think about what you really want to achieve from introducing flexible working. You might want to improve productivity, to showcase a better offer to existing and new employees, to reduce estates costs for your office space or to simply improve morale and job satisfaction. Big projects like this rarely run smoothly so having a firm idea about what you want to achieve will keep you and your workforce motivated, especially if there are a few setbacks along the way.
4. Inspire your management team
There are bound to be concerns about the effectiveness of flexible working, particularly amongst those who are averse to major change. It’s important to have your colleagues at all levels on board. You can do this by showcasing what the benefits will be, such as loyalty and motivation amongst your workforce.
5. Trial it first
If you are still unsure about implementing flexible working across your whole business, then launch a pilot project first. You should consider whether flexible working might benefit one department or be more suitable to a particular role within your business. You’ll need to decide how long your pilot will last for, how many employees it will include and how you will evaluate it. This, for example, could include staff surveys.
6. Consider what you want to offer
Flexible working could include many things – from hot desking to working at home or offering condensed working hours or job sharing with others. This needs to be a balance between what works best for your business and what your workforce tell you is important to them. Remember, you may need to make changes to the process along the way.
7. Is your technology up to scratch?
One of the main barriers to flexible working, particularly when working remotely, is technology. You need your basic online systems to be accessible while remaining secure. A great deal of preparatory work may be needed to ensure your remote access is up to scratch before you introduce the remote working opportunities more widely. It’s best to test this out first with a few employees. If problems arise, maybe consider employing additional IT support to ensure any new ways of working are introduced more smoothly.
8. Review your policies
If remote working is completely new to your workforce, ensure your policies and procedures are also updated so that everyone knows what their responsibilities are. Remember, the ethos needs to be a positive one about valuing your workforce and providing a better work/life balance. But you also need to reinforce what’s expected of employees while they are working remotely or are using flexi-time. For example, you will need to emphasise the need for confidentiality and good governance when working away from the office, what times employees are expected to log and maybe how any work will be reviewed.
9. Learn from others
There’s no point reinventing the wheel! There will be lots of other businesses and organisations which have introduced flexible working already and which you can learn from. You might find some useful contacts within your regional Chamber of Commerce. Your Union may also be a good contact to check what issues may typically arise.
10. Think about other incentives
If you introduce remote or home working, for example, you will need to consider what equipment your colleagues need to do their job. They may need a laptop, tablet, a work phone and access to Wi-Fi. You may need to consider if you can afford to offer these incentives to all employees or just those at a certain grade to keep costs down (although this may not seem fair to everyone.)
For more information about introducing flexible working in your workplace, or to share your ideas, please get in touch.
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