My first exposure to a flexible work environment was as a freelancer in digital marketing. Instead of being assessed on how effectively I could clock in and -out, I was assessed on my ability to meet deadlines and quotas while maintaining a high standard of work.
I worked when I felt productive and spent the rest of my time doing yoga and baking. I was more focused when I wrote – and found that I could do even more work in the same number of hours I did in the office. I took shorter breaks and had fewer distractions. I felt happy, relaxed and in control of my life and time.
While I now work full-time at digital marketing firm, Gnu World, I’ve still chosen to work at a company which has a flexible work environment because of the benefits it offers.
But, if you’ve just started a business or are new to this flexible work arrangement trend, you may not know where and how to begin. Here are four guidelines to help you on your way:
1. Define your flexible work policy
A flexible work policy doesn’t have to mean any one can work when they like. Instead, businesses and employees should structure work hours in a way which ensures maximum productivity for the employee and company.
This includes deciding work hours and whether to work remotely or not. This can differ between employees. For example: a client-facing employee could be expected to be in the office between 10 am and 4 pm but could be granted flexi-time in hours outside that window. Whereas someone who is not needed in the office could be allowed to work remotely.
Remember – some employees thrive in an office setting while others perform much better remotely
2. Emphasise prompt and effective communication
A culture of clear communication between all staff must be high priority in flexible work environments. In this case using email may not be enough – things can easily go missing in a crowded inbox. Using a text app or communicating through your project management app can help enable prompt resolution of issues.
Sometimes over-communication is necessary – communicate if you are late, if you need extra time, if you are waiting on something. This ensures team members are kept up-to-date with tasks.
3. Set clear objectives and deadlines
Similarly, you must communicate objectives, standards and deadlines very clearly. When people work remotely, project goals and deliverables are vulnerable to interpretation. Make sure stakeholders and employees clarify and confirm they understand and agree with objectives.
4. Provide resources and tools to enable a collaborative and mobile work culture
Provide team members with collaboration tools that enable seamless, unified communication regardless of location. There are a variety of devices and cloud-based applications that can assist in time tracking and resource management. Trello and Slack are two applications Gnu World has found very useful.
Remain flexible in accommodating different needs
Remember – some employees thrive in an office setting while others perform much better remotely. The most important consideration is to be flexible in accommodating the needs of different team members. Cater to employees’ strengths and offer an environment of productivity, irrespective of whether that’s in or out of the office.