Guide To Creating Schedules In Flexible Workplace
A dedicated team is hard to create and even harder to replace, which is why businesses aim to secure and retain top talent at all costs.
After all, losing employees affects workplace morale, as it leaves your organization devoid of possible senior leadership and a trained workforce.
According to the State of Remote Work research conducted in 2019, around 99% of the respondents said that they would like to work remotely from home for at least some part of their careers; mainly due to the flexibility in schedules that remote working has to offer.
In this guide, we’ll learn about the finer points of workplace flexibility. This includes discussing what flexible work arrangements are, the benefits of implementing them – and how leaders can create schedules that align with the tenets of workplace flexibility.
WHAT IS A FLEXIBLE WORK ARRANGEMENT?
In essence, flexible workplaces allow employees to complete their everyday tasks on non-traditional schedules. It is a management strategy that focuses on responding to your employees’ changing circumstances and expectations.
Flexible workplace arrangements not only enable leaders to support their teams’ personal and professional needs but also allows them to facilitate productivity in a win-win situation for both departments and employees. As such, a flexible workplace is:
- Accommodating different working schedules – it includes variations in when, where, and how teams’ work
- Focused on facilitating productivity across the board, and not just based on case-by-case accommodations
- Predictable – while everyone has different work schedules, they are reliably planned
- Structured to focus on providing long-term value rather than short-term working solutions
Flexible workplaces typically include working arrangements outside of the traditional 9-to-5 office experience, some of which include:
Organizations that offer a flextime policy allow employees to switch clock-in and clock-out times – as and when necessary.
Not every employee wants to (or can) work in an office environment, so telecommuting allows them to work from a different location, such as their home or even a coworking space.
As such, these employees may have to work under particular conditions and may also be required to be in the office on certain days.
In contract to a full-fledged working week, a condensed schedule fits an employees’ work responsibilities in a shorter period, such as a three-day working week. This allows employees to enjoy additional time off to tend to personal commitments.
THE BENEFITS OF A FLEXIBLE WORKPLACE
While managing a flexible workplace isn’t necessarily an easy task, the benefits of a flexible working environment are innumerable:
Flexible workplace arrangements allow employees to save finances on the commute, which is sure to reduce stress levels and ensure employee well-being.
Consequently, organizations can save on resources too! According to the State of Telecommuting Report, remote working solutions save businesses up to $1000 per employee per month.
Similarly, a wide range of companies also leverages hot-desking schemes to offer remote employees communal working spaces for when they decide to come into work. Thus, businesses can save costs on office space and increase employee headcount.
When employees have the flexibility to work at their convenience, they are inclined to work longer hours. In fact, two-thirds of managers that provide flexible working solutions say that employees are overall more productive.
Here, flexible workplaces enable employees to relish their role at your organization and increase your teams’ productivity and performance.
Dedicated employees – those who are enthusiastic about their work and actively contribute ideas – are likely to be grateful for a flexible workplace that gives them the freedom to flourish.
Amenable working arrangements also encourage professionals to ‘think outside the box’ and innovate consistently. Consequently, such team members will also aim to create minimal disruption in the workplace.
Employee well-being and health is a concern for managers across the globe – and for good reason. Mental health isn’t just a troubling issue for team members: but it also costs organizations approximately £34.9 billion each year.
Offering flexible schedules to employees can boost team morale and improve their physical and mental well-being. Not only are they less likely to be tired, but they will also be less likely to report burnout and stress.
According to a 2018 Deloitte study, a lack of work flexibility is likely to be the main reason why Millennials quit their jobs.
Many employees view a flexible workspace as a sign that their organization acknowledges their value and appreciates it. Consequently, some talented professionals proactively look for open positions that allow them to navigate personal commitments and out-of-work interests alongside formal obligations.
Creating a flexible workspace not only helps businesses retain employees, but it also helps attract new ones.
40% of employees feel that the most significant benefit of working remotely is the flexible schedule it provides.
Offer your teams the opportunity to choose when, where, and how they want to work. This will enable them to take control of their professional lives and confirm their value to your organization.
HOW TO CREATE A FLEXIBLE WORKPLACE
Here are some ways how you can create a flexible workplace:
Establish A Common Work Window
Collaboration in the workplace is a must take place, but this may be difficult to coordinate because of your employees’ different work arrangements. For this reason, you will need to create a window to help your employees interact and engage with one another.
Establish a team-wide communication method that would make it easy for your employees to communicate quickly. Instead of sifting through emails or texts, apps like Sling combine robust scheduling and communication tools to make work-life easier. Additionally, you can also communicate with a single employee, a single department, or your entire workforce on one application.
Understand Employee’s Personal Schedules
Regardless of different schedules, your employees should have overlapping core hours during the week where they can be available for meetings, and progress checks if need be. Implementing this common window also allows employees to structure their schedules around mutual collaboration.
At its core, honoring time-off requests and different work preferences can foster better relations, increased employee satisfaction, and employee retention.
One of the most efficient ways is to create a cloud-based folder and make all your employees give their time-off and work preferences in one folder. This way, both you and your employees can be on the same page, making scheduling a more transparent process.
Know Your Best Employees
Not only knowing your employee’s schedules is important, but also knowing the best of your employees can also be useful. This is important for two reasons:
- It can make you distinguish between employees and which employee is better suited to work a particular shift
- Building shifts around your best employees can also help in specialization and efficiency of tasks carried out, eventually leading to increased productivity. Mixing new employees with some of your best employees is also a great way to boost learning and productivity and create stability across all shifts.
During the planning stage, implement both formal and informal communication systems that ensure everyone meets deadlines and delivers results expected of them.
That said, management must realize that not all employees are capable of working productively outside the 9-5 work environment. For the reasons mentioned below, it is important to regulate the work-hours of your employees to ensure work efficiency. Some of these reasons might include:
Requiring An Office Environment To Be Productive
Some employees are simply inclined to be more productive in the office than anywhere else. They prefer to keep their home lives separate from their work lives, and working in an office does just that!
Here, management should keep a keen eye for employees who thrive in an office environment – and those who are equipped to work from home.
Being Unable To Avoid At-Home Distractions
For the most part, setting up a home office may not be possible for all your employees, which can prove to be a struggle for those surrounded by friends and family that don’t actually believe they’re working.
As a result, personal and work relationships can suffer, which is why management should take the time to determine which employees are better suited to working in the office.
Many employees on flexible work arrangements complain of employers’ micromanaging their workload. It is virtually impossible for employees to be available for work at all times of the day, or be up to take a client’s call at late hours into the night.
A manager who peaks over shoulders every few minutes to check what employees are doing can make it difficult for them to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This also strains their relationship with the organization.
Remember, your flexible work-plan can only work if managers and supervisors are better able to understand the needs of their employees. If a few of your workers prefer a remote setting, you can design interview questions or employee surveys to determine what best fits your employee according to their work.
Get To Know Your Workers As People
As a leader, you need to what makes the people on your team tick. Engaging with your employees will help you become aware of their work tendencies and build more trust.
By getting to know team members, managers can gather knowledge on how employees prefer to work and create teams and delegate tasks in a manner that productively engages their workforce.
With remote employees, in-person conversations may not be possible. But technology can bridge the gap – one-on-one video call sessions can allow you to interact with the team, ask questions, and get a sense of their aspirations.
Make The Most Of Team Meetings
While disagreements between employees and managers occur endlessly, both unanimously agree on one thing – meetings are a waste of time.
In Doodle’s 2019 State of Meetings report, 44% of respondents said poorly organized meetings leave them with little time to complete the rest of their work. In terms of your bottom line, unproductive work meetings will cost organizations approximately $399 billion.
When employees are working on flexible work arrangements, getting your teams together will require that they make schedule sacrifices. To make the most of your meetings and help them plan, plan, and send out an agenda beforehand.
Every employee should know what will (and won’t) be discussed in a session before they join in. Not only will this save time, but it’ll also allow you to clearly define the purpose of the meeting and give your team actionable insights to drive future results.
More importantly, check to see if your meeting agenda can be fulfilled through different means – and go for the quickest option. Can it be an email instead of a meeting? If yes, then you already know the right choice.
Similarly, take a step back and determine whether you even need to make meetings mandatory.
By taking the time to organize structured meetings, you show your employees that you respect their productivity and their time.
Train Managers And Team Leaders
Creating employee schedules in a flexible workplace has very different requirements than managing in-office staff. You aren’t there to see how employees work, so it’s vital that you set out different rules and methods to manage your workers.
Given that in-person meetings are no longer even possible, you’ll need to leverage alternative ways to communicate with your team. This is where team collaboration and remote scheduling software can help to foster two-way communication and manage day-to-day changes in your teams’ schedules.
Managers should also be trained to provide timely feedback to employees to ensure increased productivity and fewer chances of error. This also ensures employees that their managers are equally invested and dedicated to the work as they are.
Setting expectations for remote communication and training managers to collaborate with flexible employees can increase your chances of successful implementation and greater company buy-in.
Start With A Pilot
Starting a pilot program with a few key departments can help you gather information on the success of your plan while you work out initial problems such as miscommunication.
Perform a trial run for a period of six months to try out different working arrangements. Review the data and identify the roadblocks hindering a successful run, and make adjustments from there.
Consider which departments have the most to benefit from greater work flexibility and start from there. Here, it is vital that you win buy-in from senior department leaders. Identify managers that are most likely to be a good fit for piloting your test run.
Not all managers will be eager to take on responsibility for a team they can’t manage in-person. Some might even believe their teams are better suited to accomplishing goals in a centralized location.
After you successfully implement this program in a few key departments, winning buy-in from previously skeptical managers won’t be a challenge. But it won’t be easy to convince them without proof.
Here are some questions to help you determine the success of your flexible workplace:
For the managers –
- Have you experienced greater cost savings since implementing your flexible workplace?
- Are employees more productive than they were before?
- Do manager-employee relationships seem to be improving?
For employees –
- Does having flexible work arrangements give you greater work satisfaction?
- Are you experiencing less stress now than when you were working at the office?
- Did your mental and physical health improve when you made the shift to flexible work?
Businesses that offer flexible work arrangements often find that they can increase departmental hours and still facilitate their employees by giving them a greater sense of control over their jobs.
However, some organizations claim that flexible workplaces won’t be profitable (or productive), or that employees weren’t as productive. For them, it is important to understand that their issue isn’t inherently in the solution as much as it is in the way they plan and execute it.
So take the time to strategize your flexible workplace carefully and do a trial run to ensure that everything works out nicely.
Ultimately, a flexible workplace can help your organization create an accommodating workplace that ensures the comfort of the people that drive its bottom line.
Derek Jones (VP Enterprise Strategy, Americas)
Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on Healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.