As flexible work becomes the long-term norm in businesses all over the world, consideration has to be given to how day-to-day work can still run smoothly. And it’s not as simple as it might seem.
In the pre-pandemic days, when everyone was generally in the office nine to five, it was easy to contact co-workers for a chat or to organize a meeting. That was because everyone knew (or at least could make an educated guess at) where and when people were working, and how to get hold of them.
Flexible work, however, changes all that, with employees working to different schedules, and moving between home and the office and back again from one day to the next. This can be hugely beneficial to the workforce and the employer alike – as long as it’s managed right.
This blog will explore the importance of flexible work scheduling, and how to make sure your business and employees get the best of both worlds.
Why is flexible work scheduling important?
Flexible work operates best when businesses can strike the right balance of freedom and structure; the freedom for employees to work where and when best suits them, but with the structure of ensuring that normal business still functions as well as possible. Scheduling plays a key part within that, for three important reasons:
- Communication: if employees know who is where and when, and can access that information quickly and independently, it becomes much easier to organize collaboration, whether that be in-person, virtually or a combination of the two. Ideally, this would mean employees viewing each other’s schedules through a unified platform, rather than having to email or call each other to check availability.
- Transparency: by putting these schedules into a digital ecosystem, managers can be sure that their employees are still getting their jobs done, even when they’re working in different places. Given the depth of mistrust that existed pre-pandemic around employees using remote working to shirk some of their duties, this transparency can help build trust between managers and employees that they can be productive even when not being overseen directly.
- Employee experience: work-life balance has increased in importance to employees over the past two years, and flexible work has broken down many of the geographical barriers to employment. Both mean that employees are far more willing and able to shop around and find an alternative employer if their current one won’t give them the experience and work-life balance they want. Enabling flexible work by giving employees the autonomy to define their own schedules can play a major part in delivering positive employee experiences.
How can flexible work scheduling be made practical?
The first part of ensuring flexible work scheduling works well is a cultural shift rather than a technical one. It can be very easy to think of ‘home’ and ‘the office’ as two siloed locations that are completely separate and come with different rules of engagement regarding how employees work.
Businesses should move away from this thinking and consider them as one and the same, where all employees define their schedules and workspace bookings through the same platform, wherever they are. To an extent, it could be considered that all employees are effectively working remotely every day, and it just so happens that some of them happen to be in the office. By moving the focal point of the business away from the office and towards productivity, employees feel more comfortable to adjust how they collaborate on a case-by-case basis.
How to schedule work between home and the office
Employees need access to all the information they need to do their jobs in all the places in which they work; be it the office, at home, or from a third space.
Technology, however, is vital to putting this theory into practice. Employees should be able to use one platform, wherever they’re working and whatever device they’re using, to check schedules, arrange meetings (with audio-visual equipment for virtual attendees where required) and to book workspaces in the office when needed. Crucially, they should also be able to use the platform to update their own status and schedule, so that other employees can check their arrangements and enjoy the same ease of use, every day.