Flexi-time, gymnastic jobs, agile working. They’re more than just trendy terms.
The entire concept is redefining the ‘office’.
Work is no longer considered a place you ‘go’ but rather something you ‘do’.
Agile working is said to have many benefits, ranging from employee satisfaction and engagement to increased wellbeing. It promotes feelings of freedom and trust that improve self motivation. And if that's not enough, large companies such as BT have reported a significant reduction in absenteeism after introducing flexible working.
Sick days cost UK businesses £29 billion every year. Work-related conditions such as back pain, anxiety and stress are a huge factor in this number, and even the commute can be bad for your health. An unhealthy workforce can lead to a dip in productivity, efficiency and talent retention.
Agile working creates a performance-driven culture, measured by results and output, rather than time and attendance.
But while relinquishing some control over your employees encourages self motivation and increases productivity, how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can to make it work?
Making sure it’s completely clear and transparent what's expected of team members when they are working remotely makes it easier to control and manage expectations. Managers should monitor progress, and employees should be expected to organise and delegate according to their daily workflows.
There are many online management tools available that can increase the visibility a team's workload, enabling each individual to view a tangible list of expected daily tasks, and enmpower managers to track their output regardless of their whereabouts.
2. Daily calls
Communication is more important than ever when members of your team are logging in remotely. It can be easy for them to feel disconnected, so daily check-ins will reassure them of their contribution and collaboration within the wider team, and also ensure workloads are managed in line with expectations. Video calls are a great way to check in as they nurture the need for face-to-face interaction, which is seldom taken into account in the midst of a technological revolution.
3. Instant messaging apps
Make the most of instant messaging apps and tools to keep in regular contact with employees no matter their whereabouts. Slack, Google Hangout and Microsoft Teams are some good places to start. This makes quick questions and check-ins, small-sharing and office discussion topics easier than ever.
4. A switch off time
A major concern for the future of agile working is the potential burnout caused by a lack of structured working hours. Some companies have introduced a cut-off time, where remote logging is denied after 9pm for example. The aim is to encourage employees maintain a work/life balance. This is essential to employee wellbeing too, and will encourage workers to switch off at the end of the working day, returning to work refreshed and motivated. Of course, the worry here is that this defeats the object of flexi-time, and some may prefer to work during the later hours of the evening.
Despite its numerous benefits, some organisations remain hesitant about introducing an agile system. The logistics, the impact on company culture (what if people stop turning up the office completely?), and the chances of a productivity slump are all fears at the forefront of any leader's mind. But as technology prevails and cloud based softwares make it easier for agile to be a part of day-to-day office culture, it's likely it will soon be embraced as the norm.
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Written by Chris Coupe
Chris is a director at RunTech. Having spent six years in business development and management, he plays an invaluable role in seeking out new opportunities and driving the company forward.