Far from being just another business buzzword, flexible working that’s been a tempting carrot in front of employees for as much as ten years or more is now a trend that looks set to stay. And, with undeniable benefits already being felt by the managers who implement this way of working, it isn’t difficult to see why.
The fact is that flexibility in keeping with employee needs can work wonders in terms of morale, output, and retention. What’s more, far from noticing productivity knocks due to employees who are working less reliable hours, employers are seeing workers completing as much as 16.8 more workdays per year off the back of flexible agreements. The trouble is that, from a management perspective, flexing a business to start with can feel a lot like doing the crow pose the very first time that you embark on yoga practice.
Luckily, as with even the most complex yoga poses, practice can loosen the joints of your business to the point where you should seamlessly be able to cater to the flexi requirements of every single staff member. Here, we consider just a few of the ways that you can make that possible.
Ease the in-house burden
If every member of your in-house team is already swamped with sometimes impossible workloads, as well as variable additions including client meetings, customer service, etc., then it’s hardly surprising that your business is about as flexible as a plank of wood right now. After all, even an hour out in an overloaded workforce like this could have a knock-on effect that impacts profits for the next month. As a manager, that would be impossible to ignore, meaning that you’re more likely to outright refuse even reasonable requests for time off.
Luckily, reducing those overloaded in-house burdens can be the difference between flexibility or not and, as outsourcing becomes the norm for as many as 68% of companies, it’s never been easier to achieve. As well as the undeniable value found in outsourced marketing from companies like WebX360, or generalized IT outsourcing, it’s also now possible to outsource everything from your delivery processes right through to warehouse storage and even receptionist teams. While you don’t need to leap full force into every single one of these options, freeing at least a little wiggle room with outsourcing where relevant enables you to finally let your team take time where they need to.
Make sure you’re setting reasonable deadlines
Speaking of taking time, it’s also important to take care when setting deadlines that provide more wriggle room than is possible with a back-to-back calendar. Even outside of flexibility itself, setting reasonable timelines in this way is essential for ensuring not only employee satisfaction but also results that keep your customers onside. The time benefits offered by more carefully curated deadline periods also mean that employees who are ill or otherwise detained still have plenty of time to get things done.
Luckily, making sure that you get deadlines right every time needn’t be a complex process, nor does it need to lose you custom if you simply operate with transparency, and the best possible results, in mind. In a general sense, then, it’s worth taking the following steps before you set a deadline for any project, no matter how seemingly small –
*Write down a list of steps that need to be taken
*Consider potential delays
*Cross-reference other active projects
*Seek an outside opinion
*Undertake interim check-ins once your project is underway
Create a positive work environment
In some sense, implementing a more flexible outlook is going to create a more positive work environment in itself, but it’s also worth focusing on this priority for the sake of flexibility in the first place. After all, the more willing that other employees are to jump in if their colleagues are sick or called away for another reason, the less you have to worry about letting them have that time off in the first place.
Developing strong team bonds is perhaps the best way to do this, but priorities including in-office benefits like break rooms, comfortable seating, and the right decor can also increase the chances that employees will come in on their days off. And, with that being the case, there’s no reason why you can’t say yes to the flexible requests that come your way.
Flexing your business muscles can feel daunting to start with but, once you’ve prepped with these pointers, the chances are that you’ll be bendier than a willow in no time.