Smarter working – will you?

November 1, 2016    Andrew Peers     ,

What makes 50 British companies all plan to change their company culture for just one working day? The answer is flexible working.

Part of the Smarter Working Initiative, these 50 businesses have signed up to portray the benefits of flexible working for their employees and to set a positive role model for other businesses.

It’s a creative way to help late adopters see the financial and wellbeing benefits of flexible working and a guaranteed way to get people talking about it, but it won’t show the real financial and cultural commitment involved in making flexible working a sustainable part of a business’s operations and culture.

There is no doubt that businesses wanting to attract and retain the brightest and best talent need to offer more than just compelling salaries. Today’s employees cite the right work life balance, working culture and professional support as equally important considerations and are looking for employers whose values and ethics they share. In other words, employees want flexibility in their professional lives.

So how can you make the move to flexible working really work for you and your business?

Technology – are you connected?

On a very basic level this is about having laptops and phones (whether they’re the employee’s own or the company’s) but it really means making sure your business has the systems, infrastructure and support to make flexible working a success. This includes ensuring systems can support remote access to business critical software, that IT help is accessible even if your employees are working outside of conventional 9-5 hours and even giving employees access to corporate Skype systems and live document sharing to enable easy communication and collaboration.

Expectation – does everyone know the rules?

Set out what flexible working means for your business and your employees. Think of this as a code of conduct rather than a rulebook. Today’s younger generations embrace the idea of freedom and empowerment in the workplace and will understand (probably without being told) that you still expect hard working, focused employees, regardless of where they work. For older generations this might seem an alien concept. Spell out what flexible working is, how it benefits the employee and what you expect. That way everyone’s clear.

Create reasons to come together.

Businesses that embrace flexible working and have a high proportion of mobile workers still know the importance of bringing their employees together. It’s this that builds company culture, helps to share values and gives a sense of belonging. By offering great facilities for teamwork and collaboration, the office will take on new meaning and create new reasons to be there.

Make sure your management style keeps pace.

Lots of managers (particularly older ones) still believe in the old ‘line of sight’ form of management and the idea of presenteeism eg. you’re only working if you’re in the office. Make sure your management team and board understand that flexible working is about empowerment and trust (the benefits of increase productivity, happiness and retention won’t happen otherwise) before the concept is rolled out. Employees need to feel they are allowed to choose the right work space and time for them.

To find out more about agile working, what it means for the physical office environment and how to manage the shift to agile working, download the full ‘Introduction to Agile Working’ whitepaper:

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