A flexible working policy will help your company make a seamless shift into the post-COVID era. Here’s how to implement a flexible work policy and accept the new normal.
As businesses around the globe prepare for the post-COVID era, flexible work is the buzzword on everyone’s lips. This is particularly true for those in creative positions who bring a great deal of value to a team, but it’s a shift that is visible across the board.
Whether this comes in the form of flexitime, more formal flexible work policies, or remote working arrangements, there’s no avoiding the new reality. In a post-pandemic world, flexibility is the new normal.
Many employees are now making arrangements to work from home on certain days each week, leave early and make up the time in the evening or split their hours over four, rather than five days a week.
The regularity with which this is happening creates a very strong case for companies to formalize such arrangements with a flexible work agreement.
There are a lot of managers trying to keep a lid on the fact they’re willing to make such arrangements. Allowing some employees to benefit from flexible work while expecting others to maintain the 9-5 grind is problematic. It can cause issues of resentment and feelings of inequality within your team that are easily avoidable.
Since this is the last thing you want, putting a flexible working policy in place is a great way of shifting your company (and team) into the post-COVID era. Here’s how to implement a flexible work policy post-COVID and accept the reality of the new normal.
The Benefits of Flexible Working Practices
In order to successfully implement your new, formal, flexible work policy, you will need to begin by considering two key factors:
- Why you’re implementing a flexible work policy
- What you need the policy to achieve
Have a clear picture of your reasons for creating flexible working guidelines. Ensure you understand exactly what problems you need to solve. This will enable you to map out the best form of flexible work for your team. Different models have different benefits and drawbacks. There is no one-size-fits-all, and some options might not be right for your company.
For example, you may be looking to downsize your office space and cut your overhead costs by shifting some of your team to work remotely. But, if your team works face-to-face with customers this may not be an option.
Understanding the Scope of a Flexible Work Policy Post-COVID
You have five areas to consider when it comes to flexible work:
- Allowing team members to work remotely in order to save them time and costs from commuting. This will also allow you to reduce overheads and lower your carbon footprint.
- Gain greater skill diversity and experience in the same positions, while boosting problem-sharing and solving heavy workloads when you have two people share a role.
- The option of part-time work can attract a wider pool of applicants and allow you to retain valuable employees who are no longer able or willing to work full-time.
- Reduce commuting time and costs while balancing high workloads at peak times by increasing the total number of staff hours during busy periods and extending your operating hours.
- Give your team the freedom to work around school hours, care arrangements, college time, and other commitments. Plus, it gives them the ability to cut commuting time by avoiding rush hour.
Ask Your Team What They Want
Figuring out what your staff needs, and what the possible options are is an important initial step. Consulting with your team early on will give you a chance to uncover interests and needs you may not have considered, and highlight difficulties you wouldn’t have anticipated otherwise.
Float the idea of a flexible work policy with your employees and see what they want. You can do this using surveys or focus groups, or simply have informal conversations.
Knowing you value their opinions will motivate your team. You may also find they have lesser-known suggestions that are the perfect fit for your company. Getting them involved from the start will also ensure their support in implementing the new policy once the details are ironed out.
Run a Pilot Program to Trial Your New Policy
Running a pilot program for a trial phase is a great way to evaluable how effective your new policy will be. Run this in a particular department or with a specific team before rolling it out for your whole company to identify any problem areas and possible fixes.
If you’re operating a smaller business with fewer than 20 employees, you’ll need to include everyone from the start. Ask your team to report on the pilot program and give feedback so you can change or modify your program accordingly.
Whatever form your policy takes, make sure you’re providing your staff with guidelines and keeping them informed about any new processes.
Provide All the Necessary Tools
Whatever model you pick you will need an effective way to manage your scattered team to ensure everything runs smoothly and without disruption. This means ensuring your team has all the tools they need and, most importantly, great communication channels that allow them to collaborate seamlessly.
Communication Is Key
Speaking of which, communication is vital once you’ve implemented your new flexible work policy. You will need to communicate and promote the change, taking time and care to explain it to your employees. This will boost their job satisfaction, productivity and engagement while increasing your employee retention rate, employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity.
You will also need to consider future job postings, as flexible work options are a huge draw for prospective new candidates and top talent. Promote your new policy across your marketing and PR campaigns, and position yourself as a business that prioritizes employee wellbeing while being flexible and family-friendly.
More than anything else, ensure you are as flexible as your new working policy. Expect a certain amount of trial and error. It’s not good to rigidly adhere to your original decisions regarding your new policy, simply because that was what you decided on.
In order to be as successful as possible, your new flexible working policies will need ongoing evaluation and modification. Ensure you have a strong feedback loop in place between your employees and their manager(s). Keep that communication flowing in both directions, and take on board everything that is said so you can make tweaks and improvements.
For more information and advice on creating flexible working practices in your company, check out our other resources on the blog, or get in touch with our team.