The New Flexi-force

Are you excited to enable a better future for you and your staff?
Or scared of your team becoming distant?

Rose McCarter-Field

By Rose McCarter-Field

Flexible working can provide an improved work-life balance and has been shown to result in increased productivity (1). However, this flexibility must be implemented in the right way to sustain long-term benefits.

Every individual has a very different homelife. The nature of each person’s flexible working should ideally ensure work productivity as well as provide personal satisfaction in their work-life balance. Happy staff are easier to retain and easier to motivate. After all, if they are happy, they have less reason to leave and more reason to put effort into staying.

It’s useful to find out about each individual’s home situation. Some people may have a house full of children and would benefit from arranging their hours at times when they can get peace and quiet. Work that enables a member of staff to adjust their hours and location to suit their surroundings, will help this staff member to focus more effectively on their work.

Others may have personal, social, or family commitments at certain times of day. Or even hobbies that they care greatly about. Work that allows people to live their life to the full, is work that will get the most out of their employees.

Of course this flexibility must work for the company as well. And for the team. Some staff members crave daily face-to-face contact or the 9-5 timetable. And some jobs require staff members to be at the computer at certain times. All these factors are essential elements to creating a flexible workforce that has a positive impact on your company and your team.

There are also understandable hesitations to the flexible workforce concept. Perhaps you as a manager suffer from fear of your workforce becoming distant? Perhaps you have concerns that staff are out jogging and on social media, rather than working? If this is the case, I recommend taking a look at what you need your team to achieve. Base your trust on the work they do, the results they produce. Does it matter if a team member pops out to the shop for 20 minutes? If it has no impact on their work that day? What you give in trust, from many you will gain in loyalty and commitment. After all, performance isn’t so much about the number of hours sat at a desk, but the outcomes achieved for your company.

But what about being there to answer the phone, take a video call, and respond to emails? Whether your flexible working includes flexible hours, or flexible location, the communication you require from your staff needs to be considered. Once again, being contactable doesn’t have to mean sitting in an office.

Don’t know where to start in planning your flexible working policies? Here are some important considerations to get you started:

    • What type of flexibility would help to improve the work-life balance of your staff?
    • Do you need your staff to be in the office, or on the end of the phone during specific hours? 
    • How much do your staff need to collaborate? And is this collaboration spontaneous? or pre-planned meetings?
    • How public should the availability of staff members be within the team?
    • What outcomes do you need to see from each of your role types?
    • How do you monitor the quality of the work being carried out?

Working from home during the pandemic for many resulted in completing more tasks due to a reduction in office distractions. Additionally many have become more accustomed to virtual communication. Flexible working, if managed in the right way, should have a positive outcome for your company and your team.

Imagine the life you can provide for your staff. Parents can pick their kids up from school, then work later in the evening, providing their children with more quality time. Young professionals can go for a morning run instead of spending 2 hours on a train before work, get home, stick the washing on, then start work. Someone stuck on a tricky work task can take their laptop to a cafe for an hour, work on their challenge from a fresh perspective, then return to the office.

The future of flexible working can provide an improved quality of life for all staff as well as improve company productivity. We just need to implement it in the right way.

    1. McKinsey, 2020