Technology has created a world in which we don't need to come to work in order to actually get work done. As leaders, this creates a diverse opportunity to re-imagine and re-design a more flexible, happier workforce, which values connection to work and strategic results above all else.
Effective leadership is no longer focused on managing an employee's physical presence in the office, but rather on their overall productivity towards company goals. As we begin to shift our focus from that of time = worth to one of results = worth, we have the opportunity to reshape the culture of the traditional American workforce into one that values quality, flexibility, contribution and effectiveness. This can be done profitably and successfully, with work that complements our employees' lives in meaningful ways.
Below are a few simple strategies that you can incorporate today to improve your company flex-work culture:
1: Build reciprocity into your processes. Structure teams so that no one ever works alone and allows client work to easily progress without everyone present. Have all team members copied on all correspondence or utilize a CRM to auto-capture all correspondence against the client's file. This adaptation breeds reciprocity across your team, in that employees know that they will be supported when they need it so they're more willing to help others out as well. We also utilize a buddy system that provides trained back-up for our team so that they can take time off without worry of things falling through the cracks in their absence.
2: Re-evaluate the scheduling needs of your positions. Consider how you can adjust scheduling of your positions to better meet work-life balance goals of your staff. Does each role really need to function in the traditional 9-5 setting? Consider whether roles in the company can operate successfully via job sharing (splitting up the job into PT roles), day shifting (some employees work from 7 AM to 3 PM while others work from 10 AM to 6 PM), and on-peak/off-peak work schedules (employees work more hours during their busy season and vice versa). Additionally, look for ways to eliminate strict traditional work schedules in general. Allow your team to create their own schedules which are based on availability to meet client needs and pure productivity towards organizational goals.
3: Utilize remote workers to supplement your key talent with as-needed support, maternity or family leave or job sharing options. Remote workers offer companies significant flexibility when it comes to bringing in top-level talent without having to carry salary and benefits. They can cover maternity and family leave with high-caliber candidates who don't have to be intensely managed or housed on-site by your team. This often is a much better option than hiring temporary workers that may take significant time to train and may or may not provide the results you're looking for. Remote workers can be used to cover a job share where a worker wants to share a full-time position. This can allow employers to keep an employee who is interested in a job share from leaving the company.
By re-thinking their flex work opportunities, companies across industries have been able to:
- Reduce employee stress
- Improve employee engagement
- Attract millennials
- Reduce overhead costs and turnover
- Increase productivity
If you're committed to finding new ways to build out your flex-work culture, we've created a new Special Report which shares statistics, case studies and easy actions you can take to create your own flex-work company strategy.
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.