Structure Is Needed For Flexible Working Conditions To Succeed

colleagues at work

Many businesses are waking up to the fact that employees appreciate and, more importantly, need flexible working hours. To increase productivity and maintain a healthy work-life balance, employees need to have some control over when and where they work.

However, while offering flexible working hours is a step in the right direction, simply saying “you can work whenever you want” is not enough. There needs to be some structure for flexible working conditions to succeed.

In theory, flexible working hours sound like a great idea. Employees are happy because they have more control over their schedules, and employers benefit from reduced turnover and increased morale. But in practice, flexible working hours can be tricky to manage. 

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a term that covers a range of working arrangements that can be adapted to suit an employee’s needs. The most common flexible working arrangement is flexible hours, which allows employees to choose when they start and finish work each day.

Other popular arrangements include working from home, compressed hours (working full-time hours over fewer days) and part-time hours. Flexible working can have many benefits for both employees and employers. For employees, it can lead to improved work-life balance, increased productivity and reduced stress levels.

For employers, flexible working can lead to increased staff retention, lower absenteeism and lower recruitment costs. To implement flexible working arrangements, employers must have an open mind and be willing to adapt their workplace culture. In many cases, flexible working can be a win-win for all involved.

The challenge is knowing how to make flexible working hours work for your organisation.

Related Reading: 8 Takeaways from Cloudbooking’s Research on the Future of the Workplace

Adopting flexible working arrangements

While flexible working arrangements are becoming increasingly common, they are only right for some workplaces and some employees. When done correctly, flexible working can lead to increased productivity and satisfaction; however, when not managed properly, it can lead to problems such as unproductive employees and decreased morale. 

As a result, it is vital to take a more considered approach to adopting flexible working practices. Here’s a step-by-step approach to ensure your implementation of flexible work hours moves forward without a hitch.

Have a flexible work strategy

You must have the right strategy before going in, so do your research and be clear on why this will benefit your company or organisation. If someone on the leadership team or C-suite has a negative opinion of flexible working arrangements, they might resist adopting those flexible arrangements.

When crafting your strategy, remember that there are different types of flexible work arrangements, such as flexible work hours, remote work, and compressed work weeks. Each arrangement has its own pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider what would work best for your organisation.

Once you’ve settled on a plan, communicate the details to all employees. Be prepared to answer any questions or concerns they may have. With a well-thought-out strategy in place, you’ll be on your way to successfully implementing flexible working arrangements in your organisation.

Related Reading: Is The 9-5 Working Day Dead? How to Adapt Your Business

Strike a balance

As more and more employees seek flexible working arrangements, employers must strike a balance between accommodating requests and maintaining a productive workforce. To do this, they need to analyse the correct ratio of full-time to part-time workers for each team and department.

Employers and leaders also need to ensure that too many flexible working requests don’t adversely affect the operation of the business or the well-being of all staff members. By considering these factors, employers can create a flexible working arrangement that meets the needs of both employees and the organisation.

Improve communication channels

With more and more employees working flexible hours, it’s important to ensure that your communication channels are up to scratch. After all, if people are working at different times and in other locations, it can be easy for essential information to slip through the cracks.

There are multiple means of communication in the modern age. Everything from Slack to emails or even WhatsApp group chats, will make it easy to ask questions and get clarification on tasks, no matter where the team is or what time it is.

Consider using video conferencing for important meetings. This way, everyone can see each other’s faces and body language, which can help to facilitate better communication.

Ultimately, the key is to be flexible in your approach to communication. By using various tools and being open to different methods, you can ensure that everyone is kept in the loop – no matter how flexible their working arrangement might be.

Related Reading: The Cloudbooking Guide to Planning Productive Hybrid Meetings


productivity stats

Source: Gartner

Communicate regularly

Another essential tip for making flexible working hours work is to communicate regularly with your employees. This means setting aside time each week (or each day, if necessary) to touch base with every employee about their progress on tasks and goals. 

This regular check-in will help you catch any potential problems early on and ensure that everyone is on the same page about what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Additionally, regular communication will help build trust between you and your employees, which is essential for any business relationship.

Related Reading: 3 Key Drivers of Employee Engagement in Hybrid Teams

Create a culture of openness

A culture of openness can help foster flexible working arrangements for both employees and managers. When employees feel comfortable raising concerns and discussing their working patterns, it can help to prevent resentment.

In turn, this can lead to more flexible working arrangements agreeable to both parties. For example, if employees find it difficult to juggle their work and home life, they may feel more comfortable discussing their needs with their manager.

As a result, the manager may offer them a more flexible working arrangement, such as the ability to work remotely or flexible hours. By creating a culture of openness, you can help to make flexible working arrangements that work for everyone involved.

Look at the results

It’s important to remember that when it comes to businesses, what matters most are the outputs — the products or services produced or delivered. The inputs — the hours worked, for example, are less important. Of course, this isn’t to say that inputs don’t matter, but if you can find ways to focus on outputs instead, you’ll be in a much better position.

The fact is that multiple studies have shown that flexible working arrangements boost productivity and efficiency. The key benefit of flexible working arrangements is that they allow employees to balance their work and personal lives better. When workers feel like they have more control over their time, they are less likely to experience burnout or feelings of stress. As a result, they are more likely to be engaged and productive while at work.

There is also evidence to suggest that flexible working arrangements can lead to higher levels of creativity and innovation. So if you’re looking for ways to boost productivity in your workplace, worry less about the employee who seemingly isn’t putting in the hours when they’re producing high-value work output.

Related Reading: 7 Things You Need to Build a More Connected Workspace

Manage accountability

One of the challenges of flexible working arrangements is maintaining accountability. When employees are not in the office, it can be difficult for managers to keep track of their work and ensure that they are meeting deadlines. It is important to put time into ensuring that everyone is clear on tasks, goals and expectations.

Managers should feel confident holding others to account, and employees should be aware of their responsibility to meet their obligations. It’s essential to train managers to manage flexible working arrangements effectively. This will help ensure the arrangement is successful and helps to improve productivity.

Create a clear policy

At its heart, flexible working gives employees greater control over when, where and how they work to better align their work life with their personal life. 

A clear, flexible working policy helps ensure everyone is on the same page regarding what is allowed and what is not. This can help to avoid misunderstandings and frustration on both sides. In addition, a clear policy can help to create a more flexible and responsive workforce, which can be a major asset for any business.

However, a flexible working policy can only be effective if it is clear and concise. Vague or open-ended policy statements can lead to confusion and conflict. To promote a successful flexible working arrangement, businesses should consider the following factors: 

  • What are the business’s needs? For example, are there specific times or days of the week when employees need to be present in the office?
  • What are the employees’ needs? What sort of flexible arrangements would allow them to best meet their responsibilities at work and home?
  • What are the practicalities of implementing a flexible working arrangement? For example, will employees need access to specific tools or technology to work remotely?

By taking the time to consider these factors, businesses can develop a clear and effective flexible working policy that meets the needs of their employees and their business.

Related Reading: How to Write a Hybrid Working Policy: 9 Things to Include

Involve HR

It’s no secret that the traditional nine-to-five workday is increasingly a thing of the past. More and more employees are seeking flexible working arrangements that fit their lifestyles. And while flexible working can bring many benefits, it’s important to involve HR in the planning process as early as possible.

First, you’ll need HR’s buy-in to ensure your flexible arrangements comply with company policy. Additionally, HR can offer guidance on how to avoid potential problems down the road. For example, if you’re considering remote work, they can provide tips on staying connected with team members and ensuring that work tasks are properly prioritised.

Little issues can quickly become big ones if not properly managed, so involving HR is the best way to set yourself up for success.

Have clear boundaries

When setting boundaries for flexible working arrangements, the most important thing is to be clear about what you expect from your team. That means being clear about communication, office space, travel, and weekly/monthly working hours. It’s also important to remember that some personal life requirements will always come first, so you need to be flexible. With that in mind, here are a few tips for setting boundaries for flexible working: 

  • Communication: Set clear expectations for when and how employees will communicate. For example, you might want everyone to be available during certain hours for video conferences or phone calls. 
  • Office space: If you have employees working remotely, ensure they have a dedicated space at home that is free from distractions. If they are hybrid working, have desk booking software available so that everyone has a space to work when in the office.
  • Travel: If business travel is required, set clear guidelines for how far in advance employees need to notify you. 
  • Working hours: Set reasonable expectations for weekly and monthly working hours. Remember that flexible working arrangements may mean employees are working at different times of the day. 

By following these tips, you can set clear boundaries for flexible working arrangements while still being flexible yourself.

Tackling negativity

Some leaders may have an ingrained resistance to the idea of flexible working arrangements. They want a traditional workplace because it’s what they know and understand. As the workplace continues evolving, more smart leaders are fighting to adopt flexible working arrangements. 

This shift can challenge some leaders who may be resistant to change. With a negative attitude, your managers will begin to behave as if they are the victims. 

Managers need to be flexible in their thinking and their approach to work. They need to be able to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of the workplace. To do this, they must be open to new ideas and willing to experiment.

Flexible working arrangements can be a great way to improve morale and increase productivity. If your managers are encouraged to look at the positives rather than focus on early-day hiccups, they’ll become more open to the idea. Then they will start seeing the benefits for themselves and the company.

Be flexible yourself!

Last but not least, remember that flexible working hours only work if you, as the employer, are willing to be flexible! This doesn’t mean you need to allow your employees to come and go as they please; instead, it means understanding when an employee needs to take a few extra minutes for personal time or leave early for a doctor’s appointment.

By showing your employees that you’re willing to meet them halfway, you’ll encourage them to do the same for you — and that’s what flexibly working together is all about! 

Make flexible hours work

Flexible working hours are becoming increasingly popular in the modern workplace. And it’s no wonder why; with the technological advances of the last few decades, there’s simply no need for most employees to be tied to a desk from 9-5. Studies have shown that workers are more productive when they’re given some flexibility in their schedules. 

However, while flexible working hours can benefit employees and employers, it takes planning to ensure that they work well for everyone involved. Take your time to set up flexible working arrangements, and remember to review the impact on a rolling basis. 

Cloudbooking’s agile working tools can make managing flexible hours easier than ever so that your team gets more from the employee experience. Contact us now for a no-obligation product demo.

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