How a flexible workspace can improve mental wellness? Read to find out more!
Every team member has a part to play in stipulating a flexible work arrangement plan. Find out more from Arcc Spaces’ Regional Human Resource Manager, Ozbay Memet.
Hi there, I’m Ozbay, Regional Human Resource Manager for Arcc Spaces and I have been dealing with Human Resource (HR) matters for more than 10 years in my career.
Even though I have more than a decade worth of HR experience, nothing has been more eye-opening during my time at Arcc Spaces than the pandemic. It was during this period that I truly believed that a hybrid format of working both remotely and in the office can be revolutionary, if done right.
But there is a caveat. Think about it for a second — if a company were to implement staggered working hours or remote working for a period of time, the aim would most likely be to protect the health of its employees. But does it enhance productivity or help to improve communications? Plus, how do we make sure we are all aligned at work no matter where we are? Ultimately, companies have to figure what works best for them and their employees by finding a balance between productivity and flexibility. Unfortunately, these unprecedented challenges have been a struggle for most companies to overcome.
In this day and age, I believe that it is also high time corporate companies start to structure flexible work arrangement plans that are not only effective but also attractive to its employees. As an HR professional, I must admit that flexible work is here to stay and companies have to adapt to these changes, or risk losing the battle for talent.
So here are my top tips on how true flexible work arrangements can be successfully achieved without sacrificing productivity:
Because of how long we have been working solely from conventional offices prior to the pandemic, flexible working arrangements still seem to be daunting for some enterprises to adopt. However, like I said, I foresee that flexible work is here to stay; without offering flexible options, you will be at a disadvantage moving forward. In fact, if you take some time to research about it, it might not be as daunting as you think.
Hence, the very first step to take is simply to shift your mindset, from thinking of the impossibilities to embracing the process. This is crucial to prevent developing insecurities along the way, which will not benefit anyone in the process. Seek opinions from your fellow leaders and the feedback you gather from them could provide valuable insights on how to develop a proper plan when laying out flexible work arrangements for your employees.
I cannot stress this enough — this is the most fundamental step I believe every company has to take in order to ensure successful flexible work arrangements after you have established your focus.
So, what do I mean by identifying your business needs with authenticity? The best businesses do not simply identify the needs required to perform at work and/or achieve goals. Instead, the ones that stand out in the industry think on a broader spectrum where brand, culture, and purpose are involved.
A great way to start is by conducting surveys, which can help you understand the demographics of your talent pool with questions around their age, working style preferences, software/hardware requirements, and personal development goals, as well as questions that seek their opinion about the current work culture. Make it clear that the survey is for the purpose of improving work as a whole within the company to garner the most authentic answers. The answers should then help you understand the outlook of your business from an employee’s perspective, as well as reveal what needs to be improved and executed to align your talent and the business together for flexible work arrangements.
At the end of the day, flexible work arrangements are not cookie-cutter solutions. Every company is unique and will require a solution that works specifically for them. For example, Company A’s survey might have revealed that a tailor-made office suite with flexible working hours works best, whereas Company B might find that a staggered mix of working from home and in a co-working space with varied working hours is the best fit for them.
So, before you install any pool tables or arcade machines in any of your workspaces, I recommend trying out a survey first. For all you know, these are not what employees need in order to relax from a stressful day of work. Never assume and always put in the effort to seek out their genuine needs. You might even have to try out different arrangements before determining what is right for you and your team. It might take time, but I assure you it is worth it in the long run.
Notice the emphasis on sensible rules here. Rules are never effective if they do not align with every stakeholder and are not ultimately working towards achieving a realistic objective.
Imagine setting rules and objectives that work according to what you envision without considering how they might affect your talents. This is pretty much a disaster waiting to happen. As your talents are the ones involved in the daily work processes, it is only right that they be involved in the process when it comes to refining flexible work arrangements.
As such, it’s important to galvanise an open discussion amongst management and employees with questions related to these plans. The answers have to be agreed and aligned with all stakeholders in order to facilitate a smooth flexible work arrangement. Some of the valid questions could include:
When every stakeholder understands the purpose and reason behind each rule and objective, it will make flexible working so much easier to manage for everyone. Employees and employers will develop a stronger mutual trust between themselves and there will be no need for micromanaging.
As we all know, flexible work arrangements will mean that teams might have lesser face time with each other and will certainly require more trust between superiors and employees. This can affect how companies set the realistic objectives that I mentioned earlier in point 2. This is also one of the main reasons why companies are still not embracing flexible work practices. Thankfully, there is a new goal management system today called Objectives and Key Results (OKR) that can provide more specific measurements in these areas.
Known to provide a higher detail than KPIs, OKR is a useful gauge for management to keep track of progress, especially when teams are adopting flexible work arrangements. So what is the fundamental difference between the two of them?
KPIs tend to focus on the objectives with the following layout example:
Such a layout structure only provides a picture of what the objectives are about, which is good for team members to get an overall understanding. However, it certainly lacks the specifics required for point 3, which is how EXACTLY do we reach the objective.
On the other hand, we define OKRs with the following layout example:
As you can see from the surface, OKRs can actually open doors for team members to come together and set more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound) goals, which should provide a clearer idea on how to achieve the agreed objective with each targeted key result.
By combining the general summary of an objective determined by setting a KPI with the specifics provided by OKRs for each objective, teams will better understand the steps towards achieving their targeted goals. There are also software providers such as Ally or Perdoo that can help teams to keep track of the progress of each objective, which I believe is worth the investment in the long run, especially if they are working on a flexible basis.
I cannot emphasise this enough, but presenteeism has been holding many companies back from their true potential for decades. One’s presence can be felt in the office, but it can never guarantee productivity. It is sad to see that it took a pandemic to change the perspectives of companies around the world, but as I always say, better late than never.
If a company is still fixated on presenteeism, flexible work arrangements could be a nightmare for every stakeholder involved as the working experience would be a rather unhealthy and dictatorial one. However, if the same company focused on productivity instead, teams could enjoy more autonomy on how they reach their objectives, which will benefit everyone in the long run.
Again, it all starts with having your teams discuss and agree on how best to work towards an objective in different scenarios. Start off by aligning on the effective ways of working that will not compromise health for physical presence. In general, employees should always have the right to apply for medical leave or choose to work from home if he/she is not feeling well. Next, teams should agree on the tasks that can be done from home and the ones that would require a physical workspace. From my experience, more people choose to go to the office for tasks that require a discussion or brainstorming session. On the contrary, a quiet home environment is better suited for tasks that require more focus. However, a home environment can also be too distracting at times, so some might still opt for a private office space or co-working space.
Finally, the key point is to be open and flexible in the approach of understanding how different individuals work best when it comes to achieving productivity. Make decisions based on a sound rationale behind every purpose, monitor performance over time, and alter arrangements if required.
These are my top tips on how to best establish effective flexible work arrangements. I hope they’ve given you a new perspective on the hybrid working format that has taken the world by storm and hopefully, kick starts discussions between you and your teammates on how you can benefit from it.
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