So you’ve shifted to a flexible work setup — now what?
Published on May 24, 2022 Last modified on May 27, 2022
We’ve established a couple of things about flexible work arrangements: 1) they’re the new normal; 2) implementing them has lasting benefits; 3) and its success depends highly on cooperation between employees and employers.
Positively, people aren’t turning a blind eye to all these. A January 2022 Future Forum Pulse Survey of more than 10,700 knowledge workers affirms that hybrid work is growing to be a dominant model. Yay, we’ve made it to the end—or have we?
We’re only halfway through
Convenience and savings counted aside, companies and organizations who shifted to flexible work arrangements are facing a different set of challenges which were not present in traditional office work setup.
In some ways, these challenges are even more difficult to resolve, but not completely impossible. Below, we’ll be sharing the most pressing concerns employers have with the flexible work setup and tips on how to overcome them.
Committing to flexible working arrangements
Concern #1: “How do we make sure our flexi-work policy is correct?”
Tip: Observe and make adjustments along the way
A “correct” or “successful” flexi-work policy does not happen overnight. Also, a specific flexible setup may work well for some businesses, but may not for others due to the nature and goals of the business. It’s normal that initial ideas, when implemented, would show flaws and loopholes. To cope, employers should make adjustments along the way based on what works and what doesn’t.
Perhaps, you initially thought that an MWF (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) work-in-the-office schedule is doable, but upon the first few weeks, you find that team members are always late on Mondays due to the Monday rush — wherein roads are congested because people are coming back to the city from their respective provinces. Then, you may consider implementing a TTHF (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday) schedule instead.
You may also opt for an arrangement wherein employees work alternately one week straight in the office and one week straight from home. This gives employees ample time to recover from the daily grind of commuting and traffic.
Concern # 2: “Employees may abuse the policy by finding loopholes.”
Tip: Right off the bat, get on the same page.
To protect any work benefit from possible abuse, set ground rules from the very beginning. Define consequences. Anticipate worst case scenarios. Maintain clear policies that leave little to no room for assumptions. Flexible work will only be successful if employers and employees collaborate and are on the same page.
It is encouraged that employers design flexible work policies with their employees. Urge the employees to engage, ask questions, and raise concerns, so you can address them and ensure that everyone knows the ins and outs of the company’s policy. You can gather questions via a company meeting or even distributing a Google form or a Google survey.
Concern # 3: “What if issues with leadership, teamwork, and collaboration arise?”
Tip: Empower your company—especially your managers
Flexible work is as new to business owners as they are to most managers and employees. And with most new things, there can be a learning curve. Invest time in training your company’s leaders on how to manage a flexible work culture. Extend the training to employees to help them thrive and remain productive in this work setup.
Leveraging technology that helps ease your processes is also a form of empowerment. For instance, here at 1902, we developed a booking system that allows our employees to book a workstation in advance instead of randomly coming to the office. This allows the entire company to gauge how many employees are coming in a particular day and adjust their work-in-the-office schedules to still follow the social distancing protocol.
Concern # 4: “Productivity levels might fall!”
Tip: Communicate and keep a record
No business can function without records. Because flexible work setups operate more on a results-based model, it’s important to track the output and work quality of employees. You can do this by checking timesheets, setting task milestones, requesting task reports, or any other medium that details their work output. Your approach to measuring productivity and output should be laid out clearly in your flexible work policy, along with consequences for employees falling way behind productivity levels.
To ensure great team collaboration and momentum, regularly reach out and communicate with your employees — but do not micromanage them. At 1902, we have short standup meetings atleast once a week to allow managers to gauge how their teammates are doing in terms of their task milestones. This way, if issues on productivity arise, they can be identified and resolved early on.
Concern # 5: “What about software security?”
Tip: Utilize VPN, anti-virus software, and stay informed.
This mostly applies to remote workers. Installing a VPN or a Virtual Private Network in your office will allow users to remotely but securely connect to your office using public networks such as the internet. To keep your data and devices secure from a variety of threats, utilize anti-malware software. While software protection for computers is generally known as anti-virus software, it is best to use a true anti-malware software to protect against other security threats (worms, Trojan, ransomware, etc) on top of anti-virus capabilities.
You can also host cyber security awareness training — which is what one of our systems administrators did. He informed us of the multiple threats that could breach the company’s security and data and how we can steer clear from it.
Don’t give up too soon
Flexible work has its challenges, but the benefits clearly outweigh them. What’s more is that these challenges can be directly resolved. Making mistakes, learning, and improving your flexi-work policy is better than trashing the entire thing altogether. Instead of worrying if your policy is working or if it's successful, learn to be flexible, encourage communication plus transparency — and surely a successful workforce will follow.