Five Things to Consider When Developing Your Organization's Flexible Work Schedule
In today's time-strapped society, there is clear evidence that flexible work schedules are one of the most-desired benefits by employees of all types of organizations. Whether employees are Millennials living in an "always on" world, Generation X/Y-ers with busy lives and strong familial connections, or Baby Boomers looking for their "second act," the freedom granted by flexible work schedules is increasingly valued. In spite of this growing popularity, however, flexible work schedules can be overwhelming and challenging to implement--especially for employers who are accustomed to the standard "9 to 5" mentality. With that in mind, employers considering flexible work schedules should carefully consider these 5 C's in order to ensure their arrangement is as successful as possible.
Above all else, it is vital to communicate how a flexible work schedule arrangement benefits a company, as well as the specifics of who is working when and where. To successfully communicate this, employers should set an expected response time for emails and phone calls, encourage face-to-face meetings, and schedule monthly "all hands on deck" lunches to ensure every team member is on the same page.
- Computers (Technology)
Another key component of a flexible work arrangement is providing adequate technology so employees can work efficiently. These technological needs include necessary peripherals (monitors, keyboards, etc.), adequate Internet and phone service, Skype and other videoconferencing tools, and access to help desks/IT support when issues arise.
Consistency can be one of the most difficult things to achieve when dealing with flexible work schedules that are often asynchronous. The key to successfully managing this consistency is setting appropriate expectations; employers can facilitate this by setting a work schedule (even if it changes weekly), coordinating team schedules via tools such as Outlook or Google Calendars, and establishing reoccurring phone calls with team members.
Similarly, collaboration can be challenging to foster in a remote work environment. To stimulate a collaborative spirit, employers should solicit regular feedback and ensure employees are giving status updates whenever appropriate. For employees working from home, setting up VPN (virtual private network) software can be vital in keeping team members in the loop. Finally, employers should also experiment with platforms such as Office 365 and Google Drive that allow multiple users to edit the same document or spreadsheet simultaneously.
Ultimately, a successful flexible work schedule is all about commitment. Tips for establishing this commitment include ensuring employees have a dedicated space and time to get the job done. For employees working from home, this means a workspace that permits quiet time, is inaccessible to children and pets, and allows for confidential communication. Commitment can be further built by establishing a time when both employee and employer are available to discuss issues that arise with the work schedule arrangement and to establish how the supervisor will interact in the relationship. Clearly, while a flexible work schedule can seem intimidating to implement (especially for businesses used to functioning in the typical "9 to 5" environment), the potential benefits of such an arrangement far outweigh the negatives and employers would be wise to at least consider the possibility. By taking into account these best practices for flexible work arrangements, employers can ensure the arrangement benefits employees as well as the goals of the organization as a whole.
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