Flexible work is way more than just working from home. There are now five generations of employees in the workforce, each with different work-styles and needs inside and outside of the office.
At a recent Ellevate Network D&I Roundtable, senior business leaders from across industries which included law, financial services, management consulting, technology, and education, shared their flexible work best practices and policies. Here’s what we learned.
Establish Core Working Hours
An example of core hours can be from 10am–4pm or 9am–3pm depending on your industry and time zone. Employees are asked to book important department and cross-team meetings during this time only. Hours outside of this window could be used for individual contributor work.
Suggest Days Out of the Office
Yes, you read that correctly. Suggesting working outside of the office one or two days allows time for head space and undistracted time to think, which could lead to more creativity and innovation. Forcing or mandating people to do this may not work, since many prefer an office environment or routine. Another way to structure this benefit would be to encourage a balance of working from and away from the office each week.
Work From Anywhere You Want
I have yet to find a company that doesn’t have an empty desk or two in one of their offices. Give employees the option to explore a new city or country through a location change that is either temporary or permanent. If your organization doesn’t have offices in different locations, you can also offer the option to work remote full-time.
These are days each month that everyone needs to be in the office and happen around 1-2 times a month or more. Meetings that are best to do in-person should happen on a “red day.” Red days can also be used for full team and company retreats, or culture building activities. If possible, employees should avoid scheduling doctor appointments or other personal commitments on red days.
9-80s are where you work 80 hours in 9 days and have every other Friday(or another day) off in a two week period. I often see parents who return to work after having a baby transition to this schedule to allow for an extra day home with the child. However, under this structure, it’s best to keep your day out of the office consistent(every Friday, every Tuesday, etc.), and put your working hours in your email signature, which will help others stay in the know.
As I write this article, it’s Yom Kippur and the Jewish community is observing a day of fasting, repentance, and worship, while others go on with their daily work routine. Many may have had to take a vacation day to observe the holiday. And in less than three months, many people will be off for Christmas. For those who don’t observe Christmas, Good Friday, or other religious holidays, employers can make these flex holidays and give employees the option to do whatever is best for their personal situation. A day working when the majority of the company is off could turn out to be one of the most productive days.
Sabbaticals and Career Breaks
A 2018 Gallup poll found that two-thirds of full-time workers experience burnout on the job, which can have a significant negative effect on performance. Our “always-on” and connected society is significantly contributing to this, and a career break or sabbatical could be the way to hit the reset button and focus on yourself. However, most companies do require a specific tenure with an organization before this benefit kicks in.
These flexible work arrangements will not work for all companies, teams, industries, or roles, and it may require a bit more planning ahead. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to trust. Leaders and managers must trust their employees and give them the freedom to make their own decisions. It’s important to have open and honest conversations with your employees about how you will reach your goals and deliver quality work, while having flexibility. Setting clear objectives, outlining policies and scenarios in a guide-to-working-remote toolkit, and providing good telecommuting tools will be key for setting your employees up for success. And remember, flexible work cannot be seen as a negative, and needs to be inclusive for ALL employees, not just for caregivers or parents.
This article was originally published on Ellevate.
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