By now, you’re coming round to the increasingly mainstream ideology that ‘quality flexible work’ hands-down benefits everyone involved. You’re dabbling in flexible working arrangements, but judging by the cultural transformations that other Kiwi organisations are experiencing, you know that to make an impact and to truly leverage this trend, you’re going to need to take a more cohesive, strategic look at how flexible working could really work in your organisation.
Well, you’re reading the right article. Here are the 7 questions you need to be asking yourself in order to get on board with this movement and unleash the benefits of flexible working in your workplace:
1. First ask, what is holding you and your organisation back from working flexibly?
Be honest with yourself. What would keep you awake at night if you were to do this? What worries you about flexible working? What do you think wouldn’t work if you were to implement flexible working strategies? Once you’ve scrutinised your answers and weeded out the irrational ‘concerns’, set about solving / overcoming these obstacles. Think, ‘what will it take to do flexible working here?’
2. Then specifically take a look at what technology is inhibiting you from working flexibly?
As part of Step 1, you may have already identified that technology, or lack of, means that flexibility is physically not possible within your current technology parameters. Depending on how entrenched the current technology is and how costly it will be to upgrade it, may push out your timeframe to implement flexible working. But it could be as simple as ensuring that everyone has a laptop and a way of securely accessing ‘cloud’ storage. Or perhaps finding the right internal communication or workflow/time record app. So, another problem-solving session to address: how can we still be capable whilst working flexibly?
3. What perceptions and ‘flexible working stigmas’ exist within your organisation?
Many ‘flexible’ workers report feelings of guilt when they leave early for that appointment, or they’re late because they went to their child’s assembly, or they prioritise their lunch-time gym session. It’s also commonplace for feelings of resentment to surface, where workers feel that flexible working is only there to benefit those with families to care for, or for non-office based workers to feel that their office-based offsiders are the only ones who stand to benefit. When managed poorly, flexible working can often do more damage than good. By finding out what stigmas exist in your workplace, you can develop a campaign to specifically address and combat your peoples’ thinking and change mindsets to ensure that your flexible working policies are all-inclusive and tailored to every individual so that all can benefit.
4. How do you measure success?
Again, challenge yourself to be honest here. As a leader do you really know what success looks like in your team? Do you know how to identify when each person in each role within your organisation is ‘productive’? Ask yourself, what would be happening in your business – the results you’d physically see – if everyone were doing what they were hired to do. Now, do you need to SEE your people doing their jobs in order for them to achieve these outputs? By setting meaningful Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) with your people and ensuring managers are upskilled and confident to manage by outcomes, it will not matter where and when the work is being done and opens up a whole raft of flexible working options to you and your people.
5. Where is flexible working already `working’ for you?
A huge part of any organisational change or mindset shift is the communication that goes around it. When you’re bringing in something new, ask your people for their feedback right from the initial ‘development’ stage. Tell your people the reason for the change. Identify where flexible working is working well and share, share, share. At each step of the process keep ‘The Rule of Seven’ in mind, which says that people need to hear / interact with a message seven times before they really notice it and start to take action.
6. Ask yourself whether you’re truly on board with this. Would you be willing to have a discussion with anyone in your organisation about how flexible working could work for them?
For a flexible working culture to thrive, you must ensure that flexible working arrangements are accessible for all – in some way, shape or form, and that discussion is invited around how it could work for each individual in your team.
7. If you’re not all in – that’s ok too! Why not give it a try before you fully commit?
Given that flexible working is done differently from workplace to workplace, before bringing in a seemingly ‘radical’ new way of working that you think will work for your people, why not just test it out first? Be up front with your people as to what you’re trialing and why, and communicate a timeframe. Perpetual Guardian is a great example of ‘how to’, where the results of their 4-day work week were so stunning, that this is now a permanent fixture in their workplace.
If you’d like any help in working through any of these 7 steps, please contact Kerryn at Free Range Works on 021 421 952.