There are no two ways about it. We can not put the genie back in the bottle or the cat back in the bag. Now that the great work experiment has shown to bear fruit, we need to start working on how to move forward in our new “normal.”
Even before virtually everyone was working from home overnight, we were looking for ways to be more agile, and improve the employee experience as well as the customer experience. As baby boomers age, and millennials largely enter the workforce, businesses are being challenged on both ends of the spectrum to provide a more flexible and agile remote work strategy.
The Great Flexible and Agile Remote Work Experiment
Fortunately, motivating employees could be surprisingly simple. According to a survey by World at Work, 65% of organizations said flexibility has a significant positive impact on employee engagement, motivation, and satisfaction. Furthermore, 89% of millennials would like to choose when and where they work and 45% would choose workplace flexibility over higher pay.
Since the global pandemic resulted in large scale work from home and remote work strategies, employee productivity and engagement have gone up in direct contrast with the belief that flexibility reduces productivity, according to a Bain & Company survey. Why? Individuals surveyed by Bain cited that the greater team agility, zero commute, and a better ability to focus. A flexible and agile remote work strategy was already on employees’ wish list, and may soon be moving to a must-have.
Five Tips for a Successful Flexible and Agile Remote Work Strategy
Trust and empower team leaders and members. Bain & Company states that “Forward-thinking organizations have, for some time, empowered employees to think creatively and negotiate directly with their teams and leaders for a flexible work arrangement that works for them.” No one person is the same – so requiring every individual to work in the same flexible format is no different than expecting every employee to work 9-5 from a central office. By giving team leaders and members the ability to chose how they work best, you are recognizing their individuality and trust in their ability to get their job done.
Educate employees on how workplace flexibility meets corporate goals and customer satisfaction. To successfully enable an agile remote work strategy, you need to change the way you assess and reward staff members. Many businesses have adopted a greater focus on output and outcomes as well as engagement metrics such as input.
Leadership should model flexible work arrangements. When the executives, board members, and line managers also work flexibly themselves, they set an important example supporting a broader culture of acceptance, according to Bain & Company. By doing so, Bain says that “it signals that flexible work is a core characteristic of the organizational culture, that flexibility is possible at all levels and in all roles.” For employees to truly feel free to work how they need, they need to know 100% that management supports them, and there is no better way to communicate this than to model the behavior of working in a flexible and agile way.
Encourage your teams to be remote, flexible, and agile. Start out by asking your team members to define flexibility for themselves. Enable them to define their own way of working while still meeting their goals. Instead of assuming everyone is available first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon, ask for the availability of team members prior to scheduling. Other tips include set meeting-free times, such as lunchtime, and avoid scheduling in-person meetings on popular days to work from home (i.e., Mondays and Fridays.)
Support the individuals in their desire to work flexibly. Obviously, no two workers are productive in the same way. For many, working from home will be a form that fits their needs perfectly. But for others, that may not be the case. Space restrictions within the home, other family members or roommates, can all be a factor in whether an employee can be effective while working from home. So to effectively enable flexible work, employees need to have a choice. Can they work from the office or a co-working space as opposed to home? What about the necessary technology and bandwidth? All of these need to be brought into consideration as you evaluate the way you will enable agile, remote work. Another consideration is how to manage remote teams. The skills needed to do so effectively are different than those needed to manage an in-person team. Make sure your leadership and management team is trained on how to manage their team remotely as well as in-person.
65% of Organizations Said Flexibility has a Significant Positive Impact*
It should come as no surprise that people prefer and are empowered by choice. As early as toddlerhood, humans demand the ability to choose – even if it’s just between the red plate and the blue plate. Psychologist Barry Schwartz states in his 2014 book, The Paradox of Choice, that “Autonomy and freedom of choice are critical to our well being, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy.”
Now that we know that we can, in fact, work flexibly and still be successful and productive, as well as the positive impact the freedom of choice in our workspace can give us and our employees, why are we waiting?
To effectively develop a flexible and agile remote work strategy, Mobile Unified Communications and Video Collaboration solutions are key. Find out more about how these key technologies can support your business strategy.