With the Covid-19 pandemic, many companies have had to quickly adapt to remote or hybrid work, which has accelerated the trend towards more flexible work schedules.
Now, flexible and remote work is here to stay — experts predict it will even increase in 2023, despite the post-pandemic return to normalcy.
In this article, we will discuss 5 strategies companies can use to improve employee satisfaction with flexible work schedules.
#1 Establish Clear Policies
In order for a company to decide on flexible work arrangements, it is important to devise clear policies and guidelines beforehand that systematically support them. These policies should provide clarity to employees regarding the availability and eligibility for flexible modes of work.
Leveraging workforce planning tools can help streamline this process, allowing HR departments to efficiently assess staffing needs, skills gaps, and resource allocation to facilitate a smooth transition to flexible work arrangements.
First and foremost, companies should define who is eligible for flexible work schedules based on their role, job function, and the nature of their work.
Some jobs may not be well-suited for flexible schedules due to the need for in-person interaction and on-site work, while others may lend themselves well to remote work or flexible hours.
Similarly, managers should establish an official and transparent process for employees to request flexible work arrangements.
Essentially, this process should outline what information employees need to provide, how long the approval process takes, and how upper management will evaluate and approve these requests.
Something else you should bear in mind is to adapt your strategies for remote teams and employees. Traditional HR processes such as interviewing, hiring, and time tracking are not working practically with remote teams.
In this case, you would need to think out of the box and test different ideas until you find an optimal solution for everybody.
#2 Offer a Range of Flexible Work Options
Different types of flexible work arrangements may work better for different employees based on their duties and work styles, and offering different types of flexibility can contribute to increased employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity.
Here are some of the most common flexible work options to consider:
- Working from home allows employees to work remotely from the comfort of their own homes, using digital tools to communicate with colleagues and complete their tasks. This work option is particularly useful for employees with long commutes or those who need to balance work and family responsibilities.
- Flexible work hours can be implemented for workers who would like to set their own work schedules within specified requirements. Employers may require workers to retain certain hours when colleagues can reach them (e.g. between 10 AM and noon, and then between 2 PM and 4 PM), but free them to manage their time outside these hours as they see fit.
- Flextime enables employees to set their own start and end times for work, within parameters set by the company. This option can be beneficial for employees who want to avoid peak commuting times, geographically dispersed teams, or those who have other scheduling needs.
- Part-time work involves working less than full-time hours, typically on a regular schedule. This option is great for workers who have seasonal peak times of lots of work, and then lighter workloads during other parts of the year.
If your employees wish to adopt a hybrid work system, make sure to optimize internal management to make the process easy for everyone.
Consider investing in workspace management software that can improve communication and collaboration between employees and teams that work flexibly and remotely.
#3 Train Staff Properly
Training all members of staff is essential for the successful implementation of flexible work arrangements. Managers and employees alike need to understand the policies and procedures associated with approved flexible work arrangements, as well as their roles and responsibilities in making them work effectively.
For instance, effective planning is essential for employees who work remotely or on otherwise flexible schedules.
Teams need to be on the same page regarding what managers expect of them when working flexibly, and communicate with each other about these expectations effectively using online scheduling apps and performance management tools.
In addition, managers need to learn how to evaluate their team members’ performance based on their results and outputs rather than hours worked. Often, this approach requires a shift in mindset for those who are used to evaluating employees based on their physical presence in the workplace.
On a similar note, companies must train employees to manage their time effectively when working on flexible schedules.
#4 Invest in Good Collaboration Tools
The pandemic has dramatically enhanced the role that technology plays in the workplace.
Companies are now fully aware that the right digital tools enable employees to stay connected and engaged with their colleagues and the company, regardless of where they work from.
Apart from the previously mentioned management tools, there are a few other useful tools to have in mind.
Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Teams, and Google Meet are now a staple of every forward-thinking business, allowing employees to participate in meetings and collaborate in real-time, no matter where they are located.
Video conferencing helps maintain a sense of team cohesion and engagement, and it is important to invest in the appropriate tool suite to make this possible.
Along with video conferencing comes instant messaging. Tools such as Slack, Teams, and Google Chat allow employees to communicate in real-time, collaborate on projects, and share files and other information quickly and easily.
Finally, cloud-based collaboration platforms like SharePoint, Google Drive, and Dropbox are essential for teams working together on documents and projects. Teams can also use these platforms to track changes and versions of important files, ensuring that everyone has access to the most up-to-date information.
#5 Trust Your Employees
The times we live in rely on independence and individualism. Now that more people choose self-employed jobs, it can be challenging to keep in-house staff and give them enough freedom and trust.
When employees are on flexible schedules, it can be challenging for managers to track their progress and ensure they meet their goals. Sometimes, this flexibility leads to misunderstandings and feelings of distrust between managers and their employees.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to mitigate this effect:
- Set clear expectations. As previously mentioned, managers need to communicate expectations clearly to employees regarding the outcomes they are expected to achieve in a flexible working arrangement. It is up to the managers to determine specific objectives, as well as establish performance metrics that they can track and measure periodically.
- Focus on results and outputs. Managers should focus on the quality of the work that employees deliver rather than the number of hours they work.
- Foster transparent communication. Line managers should make themselves available to provide support to their team members as needed. Hold regular feedback sessions with employees to discuss their progress and any challenges they may be facing.
- Trust employees while holding them accountable. Managers should trust employees to work independently and make decisions regarding their own schedules as long as they meet their objectives and align with the expectations set out by the company. In keeping with this practice, managers should hold employees accountable for their performance and ensure they meet those expectations.
Flexible work arrangements require careful planning, clear policies, and lots of open, transparent communication between team members.
By following the strategies we have outlined, companies can improve employee satisfaction with flexible work schedules and contribute to creating a more engaged and happy workforce.