Where to start?
To embrace this changing view of the workplace, have a look through the below points as to where to start.
1. Discuss the appetite for flexible work with your management and employees
Like any big change in an organization, the management of said change needs to start with a conversation. Rather than dictate the working hours pattern, bring your team’s opinions in to test how this could best work for your business. Research continually demonstrates that modern employees want to be trusted more. What better way to show them you trust and value their opinion than, to be honest, and tell them that as a business we need help in understanding what everyone wants and what would work.
2. Scheduling Freedom
Before you make any changes in your business define what “flexible” means. Does that cover remote working from home? Flexible start times? Part-time options? Return to work options? etc. Whatever happens next, of course, the business has to make it work for everyone. There may be some employee groups or teams that need more creativity. But start with the aim of being a flexible workplace and take it from there.
3. Follow the Finns
Like so many other firsts, the Nordic region seems to get it right more often than not. It’s no surprise to find that Finland leads the flexible work revolution. While agile working is seen as a perk in many countries (including America), Finland took it seriously. All the way back when the music group the Prodigy were singing about the “Firestarter” Finland were writing into law a real firestarter for flexible work – the year 1996.
The Finland Working Hours Act gives staff the right to adjust hours daily. Not ones to rest on their laurels, a new piece of legislation (due in 2020) is pending. This new piece of law can allow employees to decide “where” to work for 50% of their working time. So when will we make similar legislation here?
4. Blooming Productivity
Stanford’s Nicholas Bloom conducted excellent research into the area of flexibility and productivity. Hands up if you think offering employees flexibility will lead to a decrease in productivity? Well, Bloom looked at over 15,000 staff at a Chinese based call center - those who were allowed work from home boosting productivity by 13% and taking less sick leave.
5. “The 1980’s called they want their fax machine back.”
So a friend of mine said to another recently when he found out they were still faxing customers' documents. He thought hilarious that a modern business couldn’t be on top of its tech. Technology has moved at such a pace that products like Zoom Video enable people to communicate easily via the internet. Quality is amazing and this week, for example, I talked to a customer in California, a business associate in Perth, a client in London and all from my home office in Ireland. Much more productive. So dump the fax and embrace the tech.
6. Encourage Co-working spaces as a compromise
They are popping up everywhere from small towns to cities, and the co-working space is great if you have employees who live far away from the office. Why not sign them up, trial and see what works.
7. Working “9-5” is the new fax machine
So to all of the managers out there who say or have said “You’re 5 minutes late” or the “we start at 9 sharp brigades” (embarrassingly I was like this as a manager years ago!) take a chill pill and know that flexibility will keep your best employees working for you, not your competition. Years ago in a large corporation, we used to run an incentive for a day off (Friday or a Monday) if you hit your sales target by Wednesday. It worked and employees really embraced it. 9-5 ain’t down with the kids anymore. Flexibility is the key.
8. Get moving in the right direction
A Cork-based recruitment agency who are experts in the flexible working space (EmployFlex.ie) offer a badge to recognize employers who meet the flexible criteria.
They will either make some recommendations to adopt a more flexible work environment or they will award you with the ‘FLEXIBLE PLACE OF WORK AWARD’. Their motto by the way: Life is short. Work somewhere flexible.
To wrap up
In a recent survey, EmployFlex found in their research that employees rate flexibility as the most important factor when choosing where to work. “92% of people would change jobs, all things being equal if flexible work was offered by another company. 67% put flexibility of employer most important factor over even salary while 94% said that offering flexibility would help companies retain the talent they had” said CEO and Founder Karen O’Reilly*
Get moving, start the conversation and see where it takes you and your company.
While working at Apple in California, USA Ryan hired and led a team of 120+ inside sales representatives through a hyper-growth period through 2003 and 2009. Ryan progressed to EMC as a Senior Sales Leader for nine countries across EMEA, winning Sales Manager of the Year for EMEA in 2011. After suffering corporate burnout, Ryan turned his efforts to establishing Ryan O’Reilly International. Ryan now works as a high-performance executive and team coach, sales trainer and international speaker, advising leading corporations across the globe and empowering employees in order to achieve the highest levels of success.