To be a successful organisation in today’s market you need to offer flexible working. We know that the one-size-fits-all approach to work – the 9-5, five day a week model – still has its place, but that place is on display in the museum next to the typewriters, carbon paper and fax machines.

Technology has opened up new ways of working that means people no longer need to be in ‘the’ office to be productive. In fact, the opposite is true. When set-up correctly the benefits of flexible working are undisputed: increased employee satisfaction, increased engagement and a more agile, productive workforce.

The problem we all face is working out how to apply it to our own organisation. You feel like your organisation is different. You need people on the traditional working model to get the work done otherwise how will you know anyone is doing an honest day’s work? How will you manage your team and their performance? How will make sure your business keeps operating smoothly?

Like any change the thought can be daunting but it shouldn’t hold your organisation back. We’ve made it easy by listing the 5 steps you need to take to become a flexible workplace:

Leadership development

Invest time developing your leaders. Just announcing that you’re going to be a flexible workplace isn’t enough to join the other success stories. You need to educate your leaders on what flexible working arrangements they have available to work with, how to manage flexible work arrangements, and how to set expectations, set goals and review performance all with this new shift of mindset.

Effective performance management for remote workers

Look at how your business manages performance and align it to flexible working. Having people sit at their desk all day doesn’t necessarily mean they are being productive, so challenge your leaders to measure their people’s output instead of hours worked.

Apply a flexible working style that best suits your business

Remember that flexible working doesn’t mean your whole workforce must become ‘part time’ or ‘4 days’ overnight. There are a multitude of creative ways to apply flexible working arrangements and practices to just about any role. For example, if there is a role that requires someone to be physically in the workplace full-time, then ask yourself if it has to be the same person – can it be a job share if the situation arises?

Flexible working by default

Make all roles flexible. Just because you have some entry level part-time jobs in your organisation doesn’t make you a flexible workplace. Every position needs to be flexible on when and where the work gets done in order to get the best person for the job. After all, it’s about hiring the best person for the job, not hiring the person who can commit the most time to sitting in the office. And don’t feel you have to come up with all of this yourself – why not ask your people what they think? Getting their buy-in in as you set about creating a successful flexible workplace is a great retention strategy.

Have a robust Flexible Working Policy

Be loud and proud about your flexible working policies. Start by having a robust set of flexible working policies in place (ideally developed in conjunction with your people) that also outline any necessary health and safety considerations and responsibilities. Then make sure you share and promote the policies with all your employees and potential job seekers. It’s a great way of walking the talk when it comes to valuing diversity in the workplace and being an attractive option for high-performers.

Covering off these key steps will open your organisation up to a much larger pool of highly-qualified candidates who otherwise wouldn’t consider working for you – they’d be joining your competitor who cottoned onto the benefits of flexible working before you did.

And as economic performance weighs on all organisations, let’s not discount the benefits to the bottom line.  You may find that your existing employees value more flexibility in lieu of a raise or bonus; likewise job seekers weigh up what flexibility will be available to them, as opposed to choosing the biggest salary package on offer.  Being a truly flexible workplace can not only give you your competitive edge, but can also minimise these fixed costs.

We are all people with diverse lives and various commitments outside the workplace which is why a one-size-fits-all approach to working arrangements doesn’t work. Write your policies with this in mind when offering various arrangements to your team members. Feel free to get in touch with one of our team if you need a hand introducing flexible working policies or education in your workplace.