One thing the business world can count on is change. As time goes on, it becomes easier than ever to implement flexible work arrangements. Your employees find increased happiness and improved productivity with the right work arrangement. Business trends indicate that companies benefit greatly when employees live and work in the way they prefer. So, how can you implement flexible work arrangements in your business?
When the Shoe Fits
First, discover which flexible work arrangement works best for your employees. Each individual employee may respond differently. Some might value the structure of physically entering the office every day. Others may truly work best from home. To choose the right flexible work arrangement, you must spend time deciphering which arrangements work best for your particular employee base.
You can accomplish this is in a number of ways. Brainstorming with your staff and HR department, informal discussions with individual employees, surveys, anonymous assessments, and an outside consultant are all options on the table. Implementing several of these strategies may provide you with the most conclusive data. Some individuals can easily identify their best working arrangement. Others, however, may not inherently know their optimal schedule and might require an expert’s advice.
In the beginning, it may be wise to remain flexible yourself. Understand that implementing these new work arrangements may take several attempts before finding the right groove. However, assuming the standard 9-5 is the best route is a disservice to your business. Your employees will appreciate your understanding and patience while they adjust to a new work schedule.
Flexible work arrangements can vary greatly. Each employee is different and may best be suited by one or a combination of these options. As people progress and responsibilities shifts, they may gravitate toward a new work arrangement. However, with every adjustment, you gain productivity and ensure your business receives the best of your employees’ abilities.
You can find a plethora of options available to suit your business, including:
- Flex time
- Reduced hours/part-time hours
- Compressed work week
- Job sharing
- Banking of hours/annualized hours
- Gradual retirement
- Leave or sabbaticals
Depending on family responsibilities and age range, these flexible work arrangements can accommodate parents, students, and seniors alike. Those with young children may benefit from on-site childcare or the opportunity to visit their children at a childcare service throughout the day. New mothers, in particular, may appreciate the option to bring their newborn to work with them. Studies show this option enables mothers to return from maternity leave much faster. Gradual retirement can prevent the ruckus of removing key personnel and provide the company extended training time for transferring responsibilities to a replacement employee.
Give employees the opportunity to put their best foot forward time and time again. With appropriate planning, your business can efficiently transition to flexible work arrangements.
Implement New Arrangements
Make sure you allow appropriate time for employees to adjust to the restructured work schedules. Equally, you need enough implementation time to absorb the administrative challenges associated with new work arrangements. Some flexible work options may affect employee benefits. Others (such as sabbaticals) include absence of potentially key employees. How will these changes affect your customers? How can you prepare for the shift in workload management?
Changes in work arrangements provide ample opportunity to strengthen team communication. You may discover unknown strengths in your workforce once team members shift into their new work schedules. With change comes resourcefulness and opportunity. As the new arrangements begin to unfold in the day-to-day activities of your business, workload gaps may emerge. Be prepared to find solutions. Effective transition involves creativity and a willingness to embark on new terrain. Once the bugs are worked out, your new business momentum can take shape, letting you and your employees experience the long-term benefits of flexible work arrangements.
Track Ongoing Progress
For remote work, tracking the hours your employees spend on the job is simple. You can also track employee progress in terms of task or project completion. Get feedback on how the new flexible work implementation is progressing. Request weekly updates to ascertain your employees’ satisfaction with the new system. Track customer satisfaction, both before and after the change. You may be surprised by the effectiveness of your new flexible work arrangements.
Your company relies on the commitment and ingenuity of your employees. When work satisfaction is high, elements of creativity and engagement are particularly pronounced. The difference is noticeable to your customers and your bottom line. However, when employees suffer from burnout, your company equally suffers. You run the risk of losing your most talented employees. Changing their work arrangements to best accommodate their unique lives and individual preferences can give your business an unprecedented advantage.
When you discover work arrangements that optimize your employees’ potential, you invest in the most valuable asset of your business: human capital. Given the right circumstances, the capabilities of each individual can be improved drastically. Cutting unnecessary requirements (i.e. racing through rush hour traffic to clock in) gives your employees the freedom to work in ways that heighten creativity and productivity. When you remove these restrictions from your employees, your business can soar.