The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to send staff home to work and although a degree of normalcy has returned and offices are reopening, many businesses are still choosing to incorporate a more flexible schedule policy.
While there are numerous benefits to allowing staff the flexibility of working their own hours from where they want, many employers are still concerned that it will result in a loss of productivity. Members of Forbes Human Resources Council have weighed in to share their best strategies for implementing a flexible work policy.
1. Focus on results and deadlines, not time and hours
John Feldmann of Insperity explains that employers should understand that different workers are more productive at different times of the day. “Therefore, they should shift their focus to work results and deadlines rather than the time of day and number of hours worked in order to achieve a successful outcome,” he says. “By entrusting employees with the freedom that a flexible schedule allows, they will work that much harder to maintain their employers’ trust.”
2. Invest in the right tools
It can be helpful to invest in the right tools to train and track performance and engagement, says Rachel Lyubovitzky of EverythingBenefits. “Ultimately it’s about collaboration and getting the work done,” she adds. “If employees are empowered to do that without ‘doing the desk time,’ this will drive a more engaged and productive workforce.”
3. Hold regular one-on-one meetings
“Flexible work schedules mean managers need to work extra hard to stay connected with their people,” explains John Morgan of LHH. This is why frequent one-on-one meetings are critical in a virtual environment when managers might not be able to tell if an employee is having an issue and needs help. “They’re also shown to boost engagement and productivity,” Morgan notes
4. Set core hours
When implementing a flexible work schedule policy it is critical to set core hours to maintain productivity, says Jennifer Rozon of McLean & Company. “It ensures that my team can work collaboratively while providing the flexibility needed for employees to work when they’re most productive and sustain a work-life balance.,” Rozon continues. “As a leader, I also need to model the right behaviors to support this flexibility.”
5. Create mutual contracts for employees
“Start with trust and a mutual contract with your employees,” says Margaret-Ann Cole of Porter Novelli. “Most companies didn’t lose productivity during the pandemic. It is an archaic view of office work to think that everyone must be in an office nine to five. Provide learning and communication tools and determine which channels are best for innovation, collaboration, and communication. Let employees help design the best work environment for themselves.”