When you’re a worker who has or desires flexible work options, it’s easy to focus on things only from an employee’s perspective.
But before you get the opportunity to work from home each Friday or shift your hours to avoid a commute every Monday, your company needs to build a flexible work program. If your boss is ready to take that plunge, you can help.
For starters, there are several business issues and needs she should consider as she decides how to offer flexibility to workers. If you offer up these ideas, it should help her get on the right track.
- Begin with research. Different kinds of flexibility will work for different kinds of operations. Whether your company decides to offer telecommuting, a compressed workweek, shifted hours, or some combination of all of those is a business decision that should be based on considerable research. As Human Resources firm McLean & Company advises, your company should start by considering what problem it’s trying to solve by offering flex, and what its employees want from flexible work options.
- Consider legal issues. If your company is thinking of hiring employees who will work remotely, especially in other states or nations, there may be tax or other implications. Managers should make calls to officials in the labor and tax departments of those states or countries to ensure that they are aware of and prepared to handle all ramifications.
- Make a plan and create policies. Once research is complete and a company has decided what kind of flexibility it wants to offer, it should make a formal plan and institute policies to support it. As noted in an Inc. article, companies need to create guidelines that “address all business needs, and stand up to tests of fairness and comprehensiveness. The process used to create guidelines for a flexible work program should include steps to ensure that new policies are compatible with existing company objectives.”
- Consider technology needs. If a company decides to allow its workers to telecommute, those employees may need different technology than they would use in an office—laptops instead of desktop computers, for example, and robust teleconferencing software to ensure communication and collaboration. A business must prepare for these changes to ensure its employees can be productive and successful as they take on flexible work.
- Train employees. Workers like you are likely to have many questions about the new flexible work policies and the impact they could have on your life. Businesses should take that into consideration and be prepared to offer training, and answer questions.
- Train managers. This step may be even more important than training workers. As the previously mentioned Inc. article notes, “Companies instituting flex work plans must also develop resource materials and training programs for managers. In fact, in many respects, managers of personnel and projects are the people who must make the biggest adjustment to a flexible work environment. … With flex-time and other developments, … managers need to develop new skills that emphasize work flow and productivity.”
- Establish flexibility champions. Once all of the workers and managers are trained, employees need to be reassured that they will not be penalized or lose promotion opportunities if they move to a flexible schedule. To provide that comfort level, a business should establish flex work champions in every department who both model appropriate behavior and encourage others to do the same. These champions can be managers or other workers, but it’s important that they know the company’s policies and enthusiastically support them.
- Be ready to follow up. The business implications of offering flexibility don’t end when the plan is up and running. Company executives and managers need to regularly measure the productivity and success of flex workers, and alter policies when necessary to keep the program relevant and effective.
These are just a few of the business considerations your boss needs to keep in mind as she moves toward offering flexible work options. If you can help her get started, the resulting plan could be of great benefit to both your work-life balance and the company’s bottom line. For more details on successfully implementing flexibility, check out our webinar on Making Flexibility Work.
What other items does a business need to consider regarding work flex? What was most important in your company as it started offering flexibility? Please share your ideas in the comments section.
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