Friday 28th August 2020
Flexible working-making the temporary permanent in 7 steps

The move towards flexible working may have been forcibly accelerated by the COVID-19 lockdown, but make no mistake: it’s here to stay.

Businesses and employees alike have found that productivity and smooth operations have been maintained or even improved over the last few months; and so it’s natural that many are looking towards more flexible working arrangements long-term that combine the best of home and office.

So how can you make this new way of working happen, and reimagine how your office space is utilized, in a way that meets both business objectives and the demands of the workforce.

This series of tips and key considerations to bear in mind:

1. Rethink the ‘why’ of your office

If your employees are working from home two or three days a week, you need to give them a compelling reason why they have to come into the office at all. In a recent workspace insights webinar, co-hosted with Relogix, CRE and workspace Analytics experts, attendees we polled on what they thought was the biggest concern around returning to the office; the results found that they were most concerned about time and expense of commuting.

So whether it’s team collaboration or building a stronger social culture, it’s important to think about what might convince employees to continue attending the office, even if only on a part-time basis.

2. Realign spaces to your needs

Pre-pandemic workspaces were often focused on maximum capacity and ensuring that every square foot had a practical purpose. But as behaviors and mindsets have changed, this is no longer appropriate or perhaps even practical. How your office space is laid out, and the functions different areas fulfil, need careful thought to ensure people can work at their best on the days they’re working there.

3. Let people work where they work best

Not every employee will thrive in a remote environment. Additionally, there will be times where physical collaboration is needed more than others. So where each employee can be as productive as possible will vary from week to week or even day to day. This is where planning ahead, especially through the use of integrated technology, can help by giving the workforce reliable access to the spaces and people they need, when they need them.

4. Don’t overlook safety

Employees will naturally be wary about coming back into the office, and COVID-19 is likely to be a major concern for some time to come. So your socially distanced office isn’t something you can just set up and think about. It will require constant monitoring and compliance, with adjustments being made to office layout to suit. Workspace scheduling technology can help keep track of who is working where and with whom, in order to prevent excessive proximity and to enable contact tracing if someone becomes infected.

5. Inspire satisfaction through trust

When managers are overseeing a group of people working remotely, out of their watchful eye, how they lead their team becomes very different. Employees need to feel that they’re trusted to work remotely and do their jobs, and that they aren’t constantly under suspicion of under-performing while at home.

Empowering them to work with a certain degree of autonomy can help build satisfaction, a vital consideration at a time when many workers have felt isolated at home.

6. Adapt to the needs of the individual

There is no effective one-size-fits all solution to remote or flexible working, as the motivations, job specifications and working styles of employees will naturally vary from one person to the next. It’s critical that you can put in place a flexible system that can coordinate everybody across a workforce but that still enables ideal arrangements for each employee. Blanket policies across a workforce, or even an individual team, should be avoided.

7. Establish what you want from change

This is perhaps a unique opportunity to reshape your business for the better and adopt new models fit for the economic uncertainty ahead and that suit a changing workforce. But all six of the points above should be framed in the context of an overarching mission. If you can determine exactly what your business should look like and how it should operate long-term, then it will be much easier to establish the new practices, office layouts and technologies you need to help you get there.

To watch the full webinar for more insights, click here.

Flexible Work eBook.

Flexible Work eBook

In this eBook, we explore how businesses can give their employees a flexible work experience that's user-friendly and supports their productivity, but in a way that is practical and sustainable for the employer, too.

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