According to Forbes, flexible working is the way of the future. Businesses that want to improve employee retainment and satisfaction should allow a flexible schedule for all staff members.
Flexible work also offers benefits to businesses. This is a cost-effective option to keep employees engaged at work while still pursuing their outside lives and interests, especially if your workers still work in the office either full-time or part-time.
But how do you manage your employees when they work different hours or are working from home? Here are 11 management guidelines to follow when your staff works a flexible schedule.
1. Establish Good Communication
Communication is key in many aspects of life, especially in the working world. You’ll especially want to practice effective communication when your staff is working a flexible schedule.
There are many ways to stay in touch with your customers. Instant messaging programs are a great example; there are many business-specific messagers where you can easily chat with your staff members.
Group meetings are also effective. Schedule a weekly or even a monthly meeting via a remote video conferencing platform. You can use these meetings to check-in with your staff members, plan projects, and more.
Setting tasks and deadlines is also important. Establish a way for your staff to submit their projects and always set communication methods in case your staff members have questions or comments.
2. Plan Everything Out
Before your staff member begins their flexible working schedule, plan everything out.
First, you’ll want to decide if flexible work should be implemented on an individual basis or an office-wide basis. If you have a small team, you may be able to implement flexible work on an individual basis. But you may have to handle this differently if you have a large staff. Set specific work from home hours and create a robust paid time off (PTO) or time-off request policy.
From here, take a look at your business systems and processes. Ensure all other executives and managers are trained to manage flexible and remote work.
Speaking of training managers…
3. Train Your Managers
Managing a remote working staff isn’t easy for everyone. If there are several managers and team leaders under you, you’ll want to train your management team to monitor staff members while they have a flexible schedule. You’ll likely need to set different policies and rules than you would for a full-time in-office work environment.
Require all employees to use time tracking software, report their progress and meet deadlines. Train your management team to keep an eye on the progress through reports and analytics and to make sure your staff is making their deadlines.
Referring back to the first point, train your managers on communication and using different team messaging apps. Your managers should also be present in any remote meetings.
4. Get HR Involved
In addition to your management team, you should also get the HR department involved. Your HR team will likely have questions and concerns about the new policy.
While there may be problems during the beginning of your flexible work policy, try and decrease the HR stress as much as possible. Work with your HR team far in advance to create a system for employee productivity, complaints, schedule changes, and more. Add this to the employee handbook.
At the same time, you may also want to include some tasks for HR to do. Common examples include checking in regularly with staff members as well as monitoring their performance.
5. Give the Option to Work a Standard Work Schedule
While choosing your own work hours is a dream for most, many workers would prefer working a 9-to-5 workday.
This can be due for many reasons — some employees feel more productive in the office, they enjoy collaborating with others face-to-face, they’re distracted working from home, or maybe they just like it when their employer is only in the other room rather than on a messaging app.
If you require all staff members to have a flexible work schedule, some staff members may not be as productive. It’s important to offer flexible work as an option, not a requirement. To do so, you need an attendance management system that allows workers to choose if they work remotely or from the office and for how many hours, as well as inform their project managers and other team members about it. See for yourself how easy it is in actiPLANS.
6. Evaluate Flexible Work Success
To ensure that flexible work is truly working for your company, evaluate your employee success. Take a look at factors such as improved productivity and better work/life balance.
You’ll also want to look at company-specific factors. These include:
- Cost savings
- Less employee turnover
- Improved recruiting
- Greater employee satisfaction
- Less stressful work environment
You should test these factors for employees who work remotely, those who work in and out of the office, and those who work in the office but work different days and hours.
What if you’re not seeing these benefits? This doesn’t mean you need to forego flexible work arrangements. You’ll just want to execute better planning and improved management. You may also want to test out a trial run before creating a permanent strategy.
Speaking of which…
7. Start With a Trial Run
If you’re new to flexible working, it’s best to start out with a trial before implementing a permanent policy.
For a small staff, you can try the test run with your entire office and let everyone decide their flexible working preferences. But if you have a large office, you may want to try a trial run with specific workers.
Set a time limit for your trial run. You may want to execute your trial run for a few months or even a full year. At the end of this time limit, collect the information mentioned in the previous section.
What if you endured some problems? That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue flexible working. Find solutions to these problems before creating a permanent policy.
8. Do Your Homework
There are many flexible working options.
You can let your employees work from home all or part of the time. Some employees may want to choose their own hours or days, whether or not they’re working in a remote environment. You can also offer more benefits, such as unlimited PTO.
Research all of your flexible work options. Then, talk to your employees and discover their preferences. You can also talk to any colleagues or other business owners in your industry to find out what they’re offering.
You’ll also want to consider different payment requirements. What if your employees are hourly versus a salary? If they’re paid an hourly wage, you’ll want to observe the work they do and use time tracking software to make sure they’re staying productive during work hours.
9. Be Fair But Firm
Allowing employees to have a flexible working schedule is very fair. But you also have to be firm with your policy. Explain they’re expected to communicate, collaborate on projects, stay productive, and meet deadlines.
You’ll also want to explain any metrics or software you’re using to monitor their performance. If you perform regular audits, you should also communicate this to your employees.
While flexible working comes with many benefits, employers will only see this positively affect their business if they can properly communicate the employee’s requirements.
What if you notice an employee is slacking off or struggling? Don’t assume worst-case scenarios. Start by communicating their problems or giving them a warning. If you notice this slacking off behavior is running rampant among your entire staff, make some changes to your flexible working policy.
10. Set a Good Example
Are you switching to flexible working hours, too? If so, set a positive example for your staff members.
First, experiment with different flexible working options if you’re not sure what you want. Work from home one day a week or shift your hours. Always find time to communicate with your distributed team.
When you switch to a flexible schedule yourself, you may find the policy easier to implement and you may also manage your staff better if you’re all engaging in flex work.
11. Keep Everything Reason-Neutral
Your staff members have different lives outside of the office. Some are parents and want to organize their schedules around their children. Others are just more productive when they work from home.
Others may have more sensitive reasons for working flexible hours or remotely. For example, maybe a staff member has a sick family member and is helping to take care of them.
Because of this, you should keep your flexible work culture reason-neutral. Don’t make your employees explain why they want a specific schedule. Focus on whether or not your employee is productive.
There are exceptions to this advice. Let’s say a staff member has a sick family member and has to work from home. If there’s a required in-person meeting and the staff member can’t attend, they may state their family obligations as a reason why. Accept this reason and offer another alternative, such as letting the staff member join via video or chat.
Create a Successful Flexible Schedule Policy
If you’re allowing staff members to have a flexible schedule, you should know how to properly manage them. Use this advice to execute a successful flexible working culture.
If your flexible schedule policy includes generous or unlimited PTO, another management method you can use is tracking your employees’ time-off requests. We make this easy. Request your free trial today.