It’s pretty much been established that a flexible work environment is a good thing. But how do we go about making it happen? Here are 6 things to START, STOP and CONTINUE on your journey to a flexible work environment:
START having the Conversation
As valuable as flexible work environments are, there is still a lot of effort that needs to be put in to making the case for making the transition. In many organizations this transition can represent a huge leap of faith.
If you face an uphill climb at your organization, it’s important to start slow. But even more so, it’s important to start NOW.
START Clarifying Expectations
A common argument against flexible work environments is that productivity will suffer, or that people will be less accountable than when physically in the office. To counter this, begin clarifying work expectations for employees when they are in the office so that you have the infrastructure in place for keeping them productive when they are working outside the office.
You can’t go wrong here. Everyone loves clear expectations. The bonus is that the existence of clear, consistent expectations will make transitioning to a flexible work environment a lot easier.
STOP Taking an “All or Nothing” Approach
Does an “all or nothing” approach really work? Ever?
Instituting flexible work environment options requires a new mindset, and perhaps even a major shift in organizational culture. These things don’t come easy, but you have to be willing to work at it.
To recruit and retain top talent, you need to make the case for slowly but surely making this transition, and you have to do it with the help of the people who will be managing it.
Don’t write people off who have concerns or who are hesitant. This is a really big deal, and it deserves a nuanced, thoughtful discussion from everyone involved.
Besides, how can you argue for flexibility if you are being anything but???
STOP Pretending Your Employees Aren’t Thinking About It
Your employees may not be saying anything about it, but they’re thinking about it. They’re thinking about it when they have to miss important family milestones, when they have to take care of a sick child, and when they fight through an awful commute.
They’re thinking about it when their friends and family work in places where they have access to a flexible work options. They’re thinking about it when they see that top employers offer these options. And finally, they’re thinking about it when they start considering the tradeoffs between staying put, and moving to another organization where they can live a more balanced life.
CONTINUE “Naming” Flexible Work Options Already In Place
Sometimes organizations already have some flexibility built in to their work systems. Sometimes little things like “personal days”, access to a schedule that allows people to come in early and leave early (and vice versa), and other “below the radar” options simply need to be labeled as part of an overall flexible work option package.
Why does it matter? It’s an easy win. It establishes a baseline for a flexible work environment in your organization without adding or changing anything. If you’ve got these flexible options in place, label them as such. Then move forward.
CONTINUE Improving Your Flexible Workplace Environment Options
Whether you’ve already got options in place (see previous) or you’re starting from scratch, they key is to keep improving. Measure the results of your initial efforts, and then make the business case to take the next steps. Repeat.
Continuous improvement is the name of the game in pretty much any process improvement effort; the same is the case for implementing flexible workplace options. Start small, and improve consistently for big results.
- SHRM: Creating an Effective Flexible Work Environment
- When Work Works: WorkFlex: A Win-Win For Everyone
- Business Insider: Flexible Work Hours Dramatically Affect Happiness
- Forbes: 5 Reasons Why Workplace Flexibility is Smart Talent Strategy