Remote work is not enough: 5 tips for the future of workplace flexibility

For most of us, our pre-pandemic work lives were heavily centered around a physical office space. Fueled by in-person interactions, workplace benefits, and office social events, a strong sense of community and culture was important to the success of any organization.

The pandemic has changed that. Remote work is no longer seen as a perk – it’s now a mainstream offering that’s here to stay. To compete with talent, companies must focus on being “people first”. This means giving employees the flexibility they need, and simply offering remote work will no longer be enough.

5 tips for work flexibility

Consider these tips to increase workplace flexibility for your employees.

1. Create a remote work guide

Remote work poses challenges, especially for young employees entering the workforce. In an office, they may stop and ask a colleague questions about office protocol or procedures. From a laptop in their home office, it’s not that easy.

[Also read Hybrid work: 5 tips for a flexible future.]

Consider creating a remote work training program for new hires that outlines remote work expectations, including company hours of operation and a flexible hours policy. By establishing clear parameters, employees have the flexibility to work as they see fit within those boundaries.

2. Encourage time slots

Employees often worry that when they’re out of the office, they’re supposed to be online and available 24/7. This line of thinking is actually detrimental to productivity and could lead to burnout.

As a fully remote manager, I encourage my teams to block out time on their calendars throughout the day to ensure they have time to get away, eat lunch, or walk the dog. Working from home doesn’t mean employees can’t take breaks.

3. Establish meeting-free times

Sitting on multiple video calls a day is exhausting for everyone. Establishing meeting-free times across the organization gives employees the opportunity to focus on their work without disruption.

Meeting-free time is a simple concept, but implementing it requires careful planning. While meeting-free days are most effective when the whole company can adopt them, implementing them on a team-by-team basis can also have an impact.

[ Advice for implementing meeting-free days: 11 productivity tips from IT leaders ]

4. Create mobility opportunities

Work flexibility is often viewed strictly in terms of hours, but true flexibility goes much further than that. A key element is to ensure that your employees have a wide range of opportunities, including career growth mobility.

Make sure your employees have a wide range of opportunities, including career growth mobility.

The continued shortage of tech workers is providing new opportunities for companies to fill vacancies internally. Many organizations are now looking to remove high (and sometimes unrealistic) barriers to entry for certain roles in order to increase the talent pool. If you take this approach, clearly outline roles and responsibilities for all roles and be transparent with employees about how they can get to the next level. When roles are clearly defined, it’s easier to assess how well your existing talent might match internal opportunities. It also gives your employees a goal to work toward.

5. Focus on continuous learning

Companies that foster a culture of continuous learning are better equipped to respond quickly to changing circumstances and meet new challenges. Promoting continuous learning not only accelerates business growth, but also improves job satisfaction, morale, and productivity – all key ingredients of a happy and flexible work culture.

Our managers enable their teams to embed learning into their workflow. For example, we provide our employees with access to resources such as LinkedIn Learning so that high-performing teams and individuals can seek out skills development opportunities outside of their traditional roles.

Learn more about remote and hybrid working

Continuous learning allows for a flexible workplace. Consider offering sessions led by external experts or internal executives on topics such as eliminating bias, improving team communication, and best practices for leading virtual teams. These will help “normalize” flexible working and equip your staff with new tools for long-term success.

The paradigm of working in a 9-to-5 five-day-a-week office has come to an end in 2020. Forward-thinking organizations are embracing remote and hybrid work models and exploring how they can give all of their employees the flexibility they need. need to excel.

Remember that true flexibility goes beyond allowing employees to work from home while trying to keep old practices in place. It’s about fostering a culture that prepares employees for long-term success.

[ Get exercises and approaches that make disparate teams stronger. Read the digital transformation ebook: Transformation Takes Practice. ]

Norma A. Roth