Flexible Working now and post COVID-19

Over the past 12 months, many of us have been forced to work from home.  Although difficult at times, our team members (and us!) are keen to continue this pattern of work into the future.  We have all learnt that some of our team members thrive working from home and others require additional support, but our new reality is that flexible working is here to stay.  It provides benefits to the team and cost efficiencies for the organisation.

Some of us may have trepidation around signing off on our teams working from home on a more permanent basis.  There are no guarantees that we will get it right all the time, however with good planning, policies, procedures and the right check ins and review meetings, we can help set ourselves up for success.  The below is not fool proof, however it is a good start.  I recommend undertaking the following:

  • Have a Flexible Work Policy that outlines your responsibilities as an employer and responsibilities of your team members.
  • Ensure employees are aware of their obligations in the Flexible Work Policy, use trial and error initially with flexible work arrangements and review until you get it right.
  • Ensure Goals for your organisation are set and employees understand how their role contributes to these goals.
  • Ensure Goals of each team are set and employees understand how they contribute to the goals of the team.
  • Each team is aware of the goals of other teams to assist them support others and work as a team.
  • Position descriptions contain Key Performance Indicators, that are SMART.
  • Position descriptions are used as working documents and updated to ensure they are aligned to the goals of the organisation.
  • Have an established Communication Plan which includes both one on one discussions with team members as well as team meetings, ideally with an agenda. Each team may meet differently, at different intervals, team members and managers may do the same.  Some team members need more support than others dependent upon their level of skill, knowledge and attitude.  A manager should be able to articulate how and why they communicate with their individual team members and their team and be able to justify their plan.
  • Clearly define the “how” of communicating. With video meetings such as Microsoft Teams, or Zoom, are cameras on or off? How do you ensure all are able to speak up?  If some are in the office and some are at home, how will you set up the room?  Are the meetings sit down or stand up?  Establishing office etiquette and monitoring this is important to ensure inclusion and engagement.
  • Managers should be able to identify and know their management style and how this works with each individual member of their team.  Again, a manager should be able to articulate how and why they manage each team member the way they do.
  • Be prepared to adjust the communication plan/management approach when employees begin to disengage or better, proactively change.
  • A mix of office and Working from Home options should be agreed and in place. All team members should be in the office from time to time to truly connect with the entire team.
  • Values or agreed office etiquette or way of working and communicating should be established. Think about how this is used and communicated.  This needs to be alive, talked about, and a part of what you do.
  • Performance reviews should be completed formally on at least an annual basis to ensure there is that true measurement of performance.
  • Development plans should be in place and reviewed as part of the performance review process to help keep team members engaged, performing, learning and growing.
  • Ask for feedback on how the current set up is going, what can we do better, what can we do differently.
  • Have team performance, communication plans etc. as agenda items at executive meetings to ensure flexible working and performance is tracked, discussed and adjustments made if required.
  • A Working from Home checklist should be completed annually by team members and approved by the manager, to ensure the home work environment is safe.