5 myths about flexible working

When it comes to flexibility, executives often fear opening Pandora’s Box and setting a dangerous precedent if they allow some employees to work flexibly. They fear that if they let a few employees work from home, the office will always be empty and no one will work. But that kind of attitude will be harder for organizations to justify after we’ve all collectively experienced such a critical test case during the Covid-19 pandemic. Organizations that correctly design and implement their flexibility policy will not “lose” anything. On the contrary, they have a lot to gain. Perhaps a silver lining to the pandemic will be that business leaders have overcome fears of offering flexibility to their workforce and now understand how flexibility can benefit their recruitment and recruitment efforts. retention – not to mention productivity and profitability.

“The flexibility might be great in theory, but it just doesn’t work for us. “

We have heard this statement literally hundreds of times over the years. It doesn’t matter what industry we’re talking about – whether it’s tech, government, finance, healthcare, or small business, we’ve heard it. There is always someone who assumes that “flexible labor policies cannot work in our organization”.

In reality, flexible working policies can work any industry. The last twelve months of the pandemic have proven it. In fact, a recent online study from Harvard Business School study has shown that most professionals have excelled at their jobs while working from home, and 81% do not want to return to the office or would choose a hybrid schedule after the pandemic. It’s important to recognize, however, that flexibility doesn’t always look the same – one size certainly doesn’t fit all.

The myth of the five Cs

You might be wondering, “If you can recruit the best people, increase your retention rates, improve your bottom line, and drive innovation forward by incorporating a relatively simple and inexpensive initiative, then why more organizations don’t? have they not developed flexible policies? This question will be even more difficult for organizations to ignore after experiencing such a critical test case during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We believe that fear has created barriers for many organizations when it comes to flexibility. Businesses are either frozen with fear or focused with fear. It’s a focus that can help businesses pivot through tough times. Over the years that we have worked with companies on flexibility, we have heard countless excuses and myths as to why they have not implemented a flexibility policy. In fact, the Diversity & Flexibility Alliance reduced these myths to fear of losing the 5 C’s:

  1. Loss of control
  2. Loss of culture
  3. Loss of collaboration
  4. Loss of contribution
  5. Connection loss

Face fears

Myth # 1: Loss of control

Executives often fear opening Pandora’s Box and setting a dangerous precedent if they allow some employees to work flexibly. They fear that if they let a few employees work from home, the office will always be empty and no one will work. The answer to this is structure and clarity. We can practically guarantee that any organization that correctly designs and implements its flexibility policy will not lose anything.

To keep your organization in control and running smoothly, it is imperative that you set standards and communicate them clearly. Organizations should provide clear guidelines on the types of flexibility offered (e.g. remote work, reduced hours, asynchronous schedules, job sharing and / or compressed work weeks) and create a centralized approval process for flexibility. to ensure that the system is fair. It’s also helpful to have a calendar system to track when and where each team member is working. You should also commit to educating everyone on these standards, from those who work flexible hours, to those who supervise them, to all other colleagues. Education and training will help your team avoid “flexible stigma,” where employees are disadvantaged or seen as less engaged because of their flexibility. Training can also help organizations ensure that strong systems and structures that support flexibility are maintained.

Myth # 2: Loss of culture

While you might not get to see every employee every day, and you might not get to have lunch with people every day, the culture doesn’t have to suffer from a flexible work initiative. However, it is essential that teams meet regularly in person or via video conference. At Alliance, we recommend that businesses and enterprises first define what culture means to their individual organization, and then determine how they might maintain that culture in a hybrid or virtual environment.

Many organizations we’ve worked with have said they’ve found creative ways to maintain the culture for months of working remotely during the pandemic. Many Alliance members have organized social activities such as virtual exercise classes, cooking classes, happy hours and team building exercises to keep the community going. In addition, it is important to take advantage of the days when everyone is physically present to develop relationships, participate in events and spend one-on-one time with colleagues.

Myth # 3: Loss of collaboration

As long as teams that work flexible hours are committed to having regular meetings and consistent communication, collaboration will not be compromised. It’s important that all team members stay in touch (even if it’s online), keep tabs on all projects, and be responsive to emails and phone calls. We always recommend that remote teams also meet in person from time to time to maintain personal contact and relationships. For collaboration to be successful, remote employees should not be subjected to a higher standard than those working in the office. In addition, technology should be used to improve collaboration. For example, when companies bring teams together for brainstorming sessions, virtual meeting rooms can facilitate small group collaboration and help ensure that all voices are heard. Some organization leaders have also incorporated regular virtual office hours for unplanned feedback and informal collaboration.

Myth # 4: Contribution loss

We have often heard leaders say, “If employees are not physically at their desks, how will we know they are actually working? But with the endless distractions available on computers these days (online shopping, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), you really don’t know what your employees are doing at their desks, even if they’re in the office. . In fact, they might be looking for a new job (which offers flexibility!) Right in front of you. It is important to clearly communicate what is expected of each individual and to have confidence that they will complete the job on time. All employees should be evaluated on the quality of their work and their ability to meet clearly defined performance goals, rather than on the time spent in the office.

Myth # 5: Lost connection

Technology now allows people to connect anytime of the day in almost any location. Meetings can be organized through a myriad of video conferencing apps. Additionally, calendar sharing apps can help coordinate team schedules and know team member availability. Even networking events can now be held virtually. For example, one of our team members created a system to schedule informal discussions around a virtual coffee shop between partners and associates to maintain networking and mentoring opportunities during the pandemic.

It’s important to know what your employees and stakeholders prefer in terms of in-person, hybrid, or virtual-only connection. In a recent investigation Conducted by BNI with more than 2,300 people from around the world, the networking organization asked attendees if they wanted their meetings to be: 1) in person only, 2) online only, or 3) a mix of ‘online activities and in-person meetings. One-third of participants surveyed said they wanted to return to face-to-face meetings completely. However, 16% wanted to stick to online-only meetings, and nearly 51% of survey respondents favored a mix of in-person and online meetings. This is a substantial transition from pre-pandemic organizational practice, with two-thirds of the organization saying they would prefer certain aspects of online meetings to be the norm going forward.

A recent KPMG CEO Outlook 2021 Survey found that nearly half of CEOs of large companies around the world don’t expect a return to “normal” this year. Perhaps a silver lining to the pandemic will be that business leaders have overcome their fears of the 5Cs and now understand how flexibility can benefit their recruiting and retention efforts – not to mention productivity and profitability. .

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