Updated: May 24, 2020
There are still a lot of companies that don’t offer flexible working opportunities. Personally, I think it’s the fear. The fear of how to ensure the job gets done, if your employees are actually working, abusing company resources, etcetera.
In today’s society, we have many things we have to juggle between work and personal lives. Currently we are dealing with the COVID-19 virus pandemic. In order to prevent more exposure to the rest of the population, the government is requesting it’s citizens to quarantine themselves as a precaution; if they feel they have the symptoms, if they have travelled, or if they have come in contact with anyone who has travelled. This is excellent; it reduces the risk for others.
This is what we should be doing when we are not feeling well to begin with, but we don’t, why? Because most companies don’t pay for sick time off or it’s limited, there is no flexibility to work remotely, and people need the money to make ends meet and they won’t take a day off unless they are on their death bed. These are just a few reasons as to why we don’t see more flexible work patterns.
Fear drives how we react to situations. But, instead of being afraid, what if you started thinking proactively and how to prevent something. What can you do as a manager or company? Why not provide more flexibility on location of working. If possible, work from home unless you need to come in to do your job. Meetings can be done virtually and from anywhere. You hired the person to do the job, it should not matter where they do it from. Trust that they can get it done. We live in a more digital world and working from a centralized location isn’t always necessary. Yes, there are some jobs that cannot be done remotely and that is understandable.
What happens if we embrace flexible work patterns? Here are 3 areas of focus:
1. Working Remotely
It may be a terrific option to let those employees work remotely who are able to. It reduces the distractions that the employees have while performing their duties, allows them to focus, choose their environment, and accomplish the things they need to with better clarity and accuracy. This also means the physical office space you provide your employees can be reduced if they have the ability to work remotely, meaning less real estate needed to achieve the same company output, and paying less rent goes straight to your bottom line. You will see more productivity from your staff as they are not bound to a desk and waiting for the clock to move.
2. Flexible Hours
Providing your employees with flexible hours can be beneficial as they will be more productive and creative. Keeping a 9 to 5 workday seems outdated as we now have a very dynamic lifestyle. Whether we have families or live on our own, we have our needs and responsibilities and sometimes the traditional 9 to 5 doesn’t work for us. Giving employees flexibility on the timing of work can also improve productivity, as they won’t be rushed or distracted while at work as they are waiting/or thinking about other affairs outside of work. You may notice improvements from your staff when they are not pressured into working specified shifts. It shows your employees that you respect the other commitments they have.
From time to time we see employees socializing with co-workers and we automatically assume they are being unproductive because they are not at their desks typing away. But remember, even if your employees are socializing with co-workers, it is part of the process, contributes to the culture, and encourages teamwork. Sometimes we all need a break to get that fresh look at our work, or to de-stress from the current situations we are facing at our desks. These distractions can actually help your employees work more effectively and efficiently. As humans, we do need to socialize and clear our thoughts to remain focused throughout the day. Trust your employees to get the job done you have hired them for and manage their time accordingly.
The greatest advantage is, it doesn’t cost you extra. It helps the employees to work and balance their responsibilities. It also shows that you trust them to get the job done they were initially hired for.
Micro-managing isn’t effective unless there is an issue with productivity or lack of focus on the goal. Example: You were hired as a manager of the department to over see your team and achieve completion of projects. Your boss walks in 1 minute after 9 and asks you the status of the project, why you haven’t taken your coat off, why the staff is not sitting at their desk and why is it taking so long. If this happens everyday, how would you respond/feel? It’s evident you would feel that you were not needed or trusted in your role, your team lack the ability to support you, and your boss should be the one doing the work.
Trusting your team for the job they were hired to do is the best thing you can do, being a resource to them when needed is a great way to support everyone. Giving them guidance/mentoring when you see them struggling will also aide them to grow. You do not have to be the same room to manage your team, this can be done remotely as well. There are loads of softwares available to allow you to manage your team and view their individual progress in “real time”. Don’t fear the change or unknown, embrace it and taking it as a learning opportunity.
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