When it comes to business, and this rings true especially for employee engagement, we can learn a great deal from analysing our deepest fears. Are you able to identify your company's sticking points, the areas in which the company culture could be blocking it's own development, the points where walls have sprung up where there should be doors?
For many organisations, especially smaller businesses and long established ones, the idea of flexitime can be one such sticking point. This is no great surprise. Working 9 until 5, five days a week, from one location, has been the widely accepted work schedule for much of the world's working population for a very long time. As such, it's a firmly established format which takes some breaking out of.
Nonetheless, many companies have known for some time that a more flexible schedule might well be better suited to our contemporary lives. The increasing demands of our lives, the establishment of women in boardrooms across the globe, and our endless connectivity, mean that the old rules are no longer such a good fit. Work-life balance is notoriously harder than ever to achieve. Huge numbers of workers are subject to disengagement and burnout through overworking. Something's gotta give.
Flexible working need not be painful for your organisation. In fact, it can offer many benefits – especially when it comes to happier, more balanced employees. It can be the golden key to retaining your star people, whatever changes their lives may have in store for them. New mothers and fathers, especially, can benefit, meaning that you are able to offer more equal opportunities which take into account modern family lives. This can prove a greatly attractive prospect when you're looking to hire the cream of the crop. Many workers are so delighted to be offered a way of working which places them in a position of trust that they will be a great deal more dedicated, loyal, productive, and – essentially – engaged.
Of course, there are many different forms of flexitime. For many people, especially parents, finishing work earlier can be a really attractive prospect with positive implications for the rest of their lives. To accommodate this, perhaps they could start work a few hours earlier instead, or spread their workload over more, but shorter, working days? For many employees, depending upon what their role entails, it might be possible for them to spend some (or all) of the week working remotely.
Whatever working options to be considered, there are essential foundations which flexitime must rely on if it's going to function well. Clear communication - especially with regards to how you are going to communicate with your flexible workforce, how often, and via which means – can make or break flexible working arrangements. Goals and roles, similarly, need to be crystal clear. As such, maintaining a flexible workforce can be a brilliant way to really hone managerial and leadership skills.
Primarily, embracing flexitime and letting go of the fear which surrounds more flexible modes of working requires a great deal of trust. Trust in your managers and leadership, plus trust in those conducting their work remotely, or during different hours. The cultivation of such trust can enable deeper engagement, a more resilient workforce, plus a more open and caring culture which respects the individuals within your organisation.