Over the past few years we have seen an ever increasing amount of press coverage on my favourite subject ‘flexible working’. These have varied from Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban home working through to countless articles on the overriding benefits and reasons why you should embrace it.
As a mum of three I have been desperate to uncover those businesses that I know exist, yes you know who you are, those forward thinking performance focused companies who truly understand the value of having a less stressed, more focused workforce and the value it brings to their business. They see how it enhances their brand and puts them in a stronger position versus their competition, enabling them to attract and keep the best people. It reduces costs and increases their ROI.
Here are some snippets I have picked up along the way:
Steve Tassell, unified communications product manager, Microsoft Ltd.
Use clear guidelines and objectives
Both on what is and isn’t permitted with working flexibly. A lot of the companies we talk to say they support flexible working, but when you speak to the employees their experience of what is or isn’t permissible is driven by the line manager and their attitudes. Clear guidelines often will help remove personal attitudes from influencing one’s ability to work flexibly.
Caitlin Krumdieck, global director of client development, Distilled
Communication solves all problems
I found that not being in the office, sometimes I only got parts of a conversation or only heard one side of the story. I’ve had to work hard to ensure that I sometimes over-communicate with my team and try to get them in a phone call or a video chat rather than just relying on e-mail.
While e-mail is a great communication tool, it can often lead to misunderstanding. To help facilitate this better I have a regular group hangout on Google+ with my team every Monday, followed by one-to-one meetings with each team member once a week at least. I’ve also made sure that I have open door times when people can reach me to ask questions or talk through things.
Feedback on activity
Every week we do a roundup of what everyone is working on and our priorities for the week ahead. It’s very short, but it gives people across the company a clear idea of what we are all doing. While this might not work at a larger company, it could be implemented on a team basis.
Some companies we work with use Google Chat internally to communicate – every morning they sign in and they can see who is online. While this doesn’t mean they know what each other are doing, it does mean they know who is around and available to chat, just like you would be at your desk.
Plan your work
Set clear expectations and deliverables. You are trusting people to perform, therefore, you need to be clear -against what! The focus needs to be output driven rather than number of hours input. This requires you to be focused on results.
It isn’t an either or..
Look at the type of work being done. If it is a lengthy document or report which needs producing, then working from home might produce a better result. However, if there is a need for team interaction to gain input, then home-working isn’t appropriate.