As a manager or a business owner, flexibility in the workplace is like a tool that simply enhances the success of your organization. Employees are unhappy and tired of the rigid working hours and mandatory attendance that the traditional workplaces demand. Adapting a flexible working model can produce various benefits and rewards. Give employees the chance to choose and arrange times for working that are suitable for them and fit into their lives and circumstances.
What is a Flexible Working Model?
What is flexible work hours? And what is a flexible working model? Let’s us help you explain it. A flexible working model may be one where employees use a hybrid work from home style or set the hours for work. It is a fantastic alternative to what is known as the traditional model of working in an office. The flexible working model was once exclusively associated with freelancers but in today’s age, more organizations have started to adopt the model to ensure they stay afloat.
With a model such as this, persons can work part-time for multiple organizations to earn more money to sustain themselves and their families. They can choose various hours of the day when to start the workday and where to work form either from. They could work from home or from the neighboring café.
Business owners benefit a great deal too, as managers save time by not worrying and stressing about the details of each employee’s workday, because they are given the freedom to choose their workspaces and time. If you are worried about employees getting their work done, you can employ a management software system with productivity management tools. The said system can work with tools that are available, such as project management tools.
Benefits of Implementing a Flexible Working Model
While there may be barriers limiting your organizations from making the shift and adopting flexible working models. Reviewing these policies and restrictions can help the organization thrive and be successful. Some of the benefits include:
- Positively impacting your workforce. Employee engagement, productivity levels, and wellbeing can increase significantly.
- The brand and reputation of the organization can gain a boost.
- Flexible employment has a way of building the workplace resilience showing competitors just how determined you are to stay in business. You can also begin reducing turnover cost, emergency leaves, and sick days, as employees have “me time” on their hands to sort themselves out.
Types of Flexible Working Model
As a manager or business owner, you may be wondering how to implement such a system. Before making any major decisions, it is crucial to do some research and get clarification on the types, options, and possible models that are available. Below are six types of flexible working models.
1. Part-Time Working and Job Sharing
Flexible working is not a new concept. Many persons already commence part time work or job sharing and such arrangements are very common methods of adapting the working pattern to fit your individual needs.
A part time worker is often a person who is paid by the hours worked, and they work fewer hours than other workers employed full time for the same kinds of tasks. However, job sharing is where two people perform one role.
Pros of Part-Time Working and Job Sharing
- Job sharing and working part time helps to avoid burnout and prevent workplace fatigue, and it also encourages efficiency.
- Having two people working on the same job allows for twice the amount of brainpower.
- It is applicable to employees at all levels of seniority
- Give employees an opportunity to juggle their personal lives, commitments, and obligations, such as caring for a child or another family member and tending to the house.
Cons of Part-Time Working and Job Sharing
- The weight of additional cost, such as having to make two pension contributions
- Managers are unable to recruit additional staff at times and there is inflexible job share preparations.
- It can cause an unfavorable impact on employee’s performance, which could mean difficulty distributing roles evenly.
2. Compressed Hours
Compressed hours involve compressing the week’s work into shorter time spans. For example, an employee who generally works a 40-hour work week could instead work four days for 10 hours each.
Pros of Compressed Hours
- A better work life balance is available for employees that creates a balance without any reduction in their salary.
- The workplace may be staffed for a longer period during respective working days.
Cons of Compressed Hours
- Employees working long hours can lead to inefficiency, workplace fatigue, and simple mistakes being made on the job.
- Insufficient work may be available throughout the times the employee suggests working.
3. Home Working/Teleworking
This flexible working from home model has seen growing popularity as the gradual use of information technology is being combined into all the facets of working life.
Working from home is an arrangement where employees work from their own homes, instead of attending the office, while telework is defined as using technology to permit employees to work away from the office at any location using what is called a cloud-based system.
Pros of Home Working
The benefits of a work from home arrangement include:
- Employees can work from wherever, even without the typical office standing desk and ergonomic chair, which reduces travelling time and improves efficiency. They may not be able to bulk order office furniture, but they can go the DIY route to get things done
- Employees can save money generally spent on travelling.
Cons of Home Working
- Employees are required to be highly self-motivated to manage their own time and understand the safety and health risks and complications of working from home.
- Difficulty in monitoring the availability hours and hours for work. Employees can take full advantage of this arrangement and conduct their business, rest, or work at whatever time.
What are flexible work hours? Flextime is another reasonably common flexible working model that allows employees to vary their start and finish times, for example employees can start working 10:00 am through to 6:00 pm instead of the traditional 8:30am – 5:00pm.
Pros of Flextime
- The employee’s salary and weekly hours remain consistent.
- This flexible model is beneficial to individuals who have responsibilities prior to and after work begins for example the school run, or a long commute or any other types engagements
- Permits workplace to be operated for a longer period.
Cons of Flextime
- The possibility exists that there could be negative effects on the organization’s ability to meet customer demand or colleague’s uncertainty of another employee’s variable working pattern.
- Lone workers outside working hours could experience health and safety issues.
How Managers Are Expected to Master the Challenge of Flexible Working Model
As managers you are held in high regard to employees and should be able to take and handle challenges well. You can do this by asking relevant questions, clarifying any misconceptions, discussing expectations, and defining the rules and regulations that govern the arrangements of the flexible working models the organizations have chosen to implement.
Using these tips and tricks can come in handy:
- Set clear, attainable, and realistic goals with employees
- Document the goals either using an excel document, in Google docs, or using a vision/whiteboard.
- Promote effective employee communication using methods such as emails, reports, or direct fact to face dialogue.
- Develop and establish the flow or chain of information.
- Conduct follow ups with employees to help them stay on track.
- Set deadlines for every objective or project and break major projects into smaller milestones so they are easily achieved.
- Organize regular meetings to discuss issues, give effective employee feedback, appraise employees, and to compare information and notes. It can also be a time to regroup and refocus.
Your managerial role is ever-changing, so seeking guidance and support from training and development. This can help you to better understand how to be better capable of managing your employees in challenging times. Changing circumstances are always going to make you a better manager.
Managerial Guidelines for Implementing Flexible Working Models
If you can effectively implement flexible work models as a manager, it can become a valuable tool to improve the levels of productivity and innovation that you can experience. This comes from both a strategy perspective and an improved focus perspective where employees are concerned.
On the side of your subordinates, they derive better employee satisfaction, they feel more committed to the organization’s strategic goals, they feel less stressed, and they are likely to become more competitive for opportunities, and create a positive work culture. Of course, all these things yield a better outlook for whatever tactical and day-to-day objectives would have been put forth.
Remember you have a responsibility as a manager to ensure that organizational needs are met, resources are used efficiently and effectively, and talent is identified and maximized.
On that note, the following guidelines should help you to ensure that you increase the chances of an eventual successful flexible work arrangement:
- Communication skills must always be effectively carried out. Remember that this is a two-way process and it's subject to channel use and interpretation. It's your job as a manager to understand those who you are responsible for watching over and directing. Whether it's the expectation where work time is concerned or the job tasks that are supposed to be done, the goals must be effectively communicated to each employee to ensure that the final result is in line with what you expected. Improper communication achieves the opposite, which can negatively affect business performance.
- If you think of work from the traditional perspective, you're going to have trouble adapting to the concept of a flexible working model. It's time for you to stop looking at work as a place that people need to be. Instead, think of it as the underlying roles and the tasks that need to be carried out. Once you do this, you can evaluate successful and substandard performance based on what employees achieve, as opposed to where they are. You are going to quickly find out that once all employees are pulling in the same direction and completing the tasks that they are supposed to, all stakeholders are going to be in good spirits. You need to motivate your team remotely.
- You need to have multiple plans of action, as the flexible work model creates a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity in many different areas. Therefore, if you are using one model, for example, and you realize that it's not proceeding the way you had intended, you must have a backup plan in mind. This could be as simple as switching to another of the models discussed above. Just remember the communication tip from earlier. If you're going to be changing the mode of operations, all who are affected need to be briefed and need to be given the chance to adjust.
- You may find it beneficial to start with a trial period. Many companies who use this system now found it a bit difficult to adapt at the beginning. Apart from management's view on the matter, many employees are used to working in the traditional manner. Therefore, many elements can throw a wrench into the plan of having a successful flexible working model. Some people simply need to learn how to get into the swing of things and using a trial or pilot period can help with this. The most basic way to pull this off is to choose a set of employees who are going to be used to test the system. Others can remain in the traditional work style that they were using before. Therefore, if things go downhill with the pilot set, you can strategize and make corrections without big impacts to business performance and increase productivity at work.
- You must create success measures as a manager or business owner. As is the case with many other elements of your production or service process, having KPIs helps you to effectively identify where you are succeeding or failing. It would help if you did the same thing as you work on implementing a flexible work model in your business. How do you know that it is working out well? Is it benefiting the employees? Is it benefiting the business? You need to set out predefined targets and have a defined time over which you are going to be observing things to track performance. Set various intervals that you use to check in with performance from time to time. This process needs only be as formal as required for management to make effective decisions if change is necessary. Once you start going about things this way, you should have no problem making continuous improvements to your system of doing things until you have a free-flowing flexible work model.
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