Flexible working practices have become a key element in attracting and retaining talent. In a globalised economy, geographical boundaries are no longer an obstacle to bringing together professionals of all disciplines to form competitive and world-beating teams. In practical terms alone, giving workers greater freedom to manage their own timetables overcomes the hurdles formerly imposed on hiring remote staff by international time differences and datelines.
But beyond this, a degree of flexibility in the working environment has physical, operational, and emotional benefits which can go a long way in promoting loyalty to the organisation and increasing staff morale. We’ll look at some of those benefits, now.
Optimising Time Spent in Various Locations
Empowering your staff to perform to their strengths involves enabling them to nurture and inhabit an environment that’s most conducive to producing their best work.
For some, this might mean sitting in an office cubicle. But for others, peak performance and focus on the task at hand might be achieved in any number of alternate settings: on a train, at home, or seated on a bench in a public park.
Knowing that management is willing to allow flexible working and provide freedom from traditional office or workshop confines gives employees the confidence to structure their time in an optimal environment of their choice – and they’ll be much more likely to enjoy their work, and produce better output as a result.
Having access to corporate resources from any location is a must, for working arrangements like this. Mobile apps, virtual phone systems and access to a network like Swytch (which allows clients to assign UK-registered business numbers to personal phones and mobile devices) are the kinds of options that can make this possible.
Giving Autonomy to the Flexible
Just as different workers have unique preferences as to the kind of environment they feel most comfortable and productive in, so too do different personality types cope with a structured timetable and job roster in different ways.
An assessment and knowledge of the skills and personality traits of your employees will assist you in identifying which of your staff are best able to cope with a greater or lesser degree of autonomy, and which ones benefit from a more directed, “hands-on management” approach.
Wherever possible, it’s a good idea to give all of your workers some degree of freedom in determining how they structure their time and how they approach the jobs they’re assigned. A feeling of autonomy lends workers a sense of empowerment – secure in the knowledge that they’re trusted with some responsibility for their own career path, and able to take ownership of their work, rather than having the job ruling them.
Teams & Substitute Players
Flexible working need not be an individual affair. In fact, many businesses gain by introducing a group dynamic into their flexible working practices.
For example, in a development project that’s being conducted by a team, it makes sense to rotate duties and responsibilities among the team members, so that work on the project may continue if someone requires a break, has a commitment to honour, or simply has skills that can be duplicated or added to by someone else in the group.
And with the dominance of international business and the 24/7 consumer culture, allowing workers living in different time zones to take over job responsibilities at certain hours of the day is a great way of simultaneously ensuring business availability, and relieving the psychological and physical burden on staff members who would otherwise be required to put in extra hours.
Mentors & Protégés
Setting up two-person teams consisting of a senior or more experienced staff member and someone newer to the organisation can reap benefits both for the enterprise and the individuals concerned.
The younger staff member gains the mentorship and guidance of someone further along the career path – in addition to a sense of empowerment and responsibility, on those occasions when they’re called upon to stand in for the senior staff member.
Employees in the mentor’s role are able to create more time for themselves by delegating tasks and responsibilities to their junior. They’ll also be playing a part in the nurturing of new talent for the enterprise.
Technology as an Additional Resource
The management of human resources is just one part of a flexible working environment. Resources, infrastructure, and technology available to the enterprise may also be called upon to free up time for your workers, and to enable them to do their jobs more effectively. In workplaces where numerous repetitive tasks are the norm, using machinery and software for automation is one way of achieving this.
Information Technology and telecommunications resources are another. Tools for video conferencing, instant messaging, document sharing and collaboration – especially those with mobile app versions – can keep remote and home-based workers in touch with each other, and able to trade ideas, tasks and (if necessary) working hours.
Platforms like the Swytch network can give businesses and their workers a continuous presence in regional and international markets – while simultaneously empowering workers to devote more time to their lives away from the office.
Making Sound Economic Sense
Finally, there’s a solid economic foundation for the adoption of more flexible working practices. Reasons underlying this include:
- By having fewer workers based on your business premises, you’ll reduce the need for expensive office space and equipment
- With a staff including workers in various localities and time zones, you’ll actually increase the number of hours that you’re available each day – without having to impose long hours on your employees
- Reduced working hours have been proven to have a beneficial effect on physical and emotional health – which reflects in a happier, more productive and loyal workforce
- Being known as an organisation with flexibility written into its DNA makes your business an attractor for high-quality talent from across the globe
That’s why flexi-time, job sharing, condensed weeks and other flexible working practices are reaping dividends for enterprises which engage in them – both in monetary terms, and in their capacity to promote job satisfaction and increase staff morale.
To prepare your staff for flexible working, give them greater control and the ability to stay connected with a Swytch business account. Get in touch with Swytch today to find out more.