Flexible workplaces have begun popping up all over in the past several years as increasing numbers of employees are expressing the desire to work remotely and numerous employers are discovering that they can benefit financially from these new arrangements. However, transitioning from a traditional workplace to a hybrid or completely remote workplace can be challenging without appropriate rules to follow. These best practices will help you create a thriving and successful flexible work environment whether you are a small or medium-sized business.
Flexible Work Arrangements Best Practices
1. Protect Your Business With the Right Insurance
An often overlooked part of flexible work arrangements is protecting you and your business with appropriate liability, workers compensation, and other insurance for small business owners. Standard business policies may not cover remote worker equipment or property. Another consideration is worker’s compensation insurance. Your current insurer may not offer coverage in the states where remote workers live, so be sure to check with your broker to make sure you are protected in the event of a claim.
2. Create Structured Yet Flexible Work Options
Even if you are opting for a flexible work schedule for all of your employees, you will still need to provide them with some structure so that they know when they need to be working, how much they need to accomplish each week, and when they need to check in with you. While there are numerous options for setting up work hours, including job sharing and flextime, the following five options are most frequently chosen for remote workers.
Part-Time Remote Work
Part-time working hours allow employees to work fewer hours each day or to work full days only a few times each week.
Full-Time Remote Work
With full-time remote work, employees never have to show up on-site.
Flexible Remote Work
This hybrid solution allows employees to work partially at home and partially on site.
With this option, employees work the same number of scheduled hours but compress them into fewer days, such as by working 40 hours in 4 days rather than 5.
Employees must work a certain number of hours per year but do not have to follow a set schedule.
3. Provide Training for Remote Workers
Working remotely can be a huge leap for many of your employees. They may not know what to expect, how to turn in work, or how to request meetings with managers. Take time to develop a written guide, and let employees know where they can turn if they have questions.
4. Ensure Your Technology Is Ready to Go
Technology is one of the biggest indicators of how well employees will be able to work flexibly, but it can also be one of the biggest headaches. You must ensure that all employees have reliable access to the Internet and have video conferencing equipment. You may also need to consider providing work laptops or smartphones.
5. Begin With a Pilot Program
A pilot program gives you a chance to see how well the measures you have put into place are working. Start with a two to three-week testing period, and ask your work family for feedback at the end of this time.
6. Create Clear Communication Patterns
When managers and employees are not working together physically, communication can quickly break down. Be clear about the type of communication you expect from your employees as they complete projects, and set an example by regularly communicating feedback.
7. Use Productivity Metrics
Even if you already have a standard method of measuring productivity in place, you may need to adjust this once you begin to offer flexible work options. Keep these metrics mainly objective while looking at cost savings, employee turnover rates, and overall productivity. However, keep in mind that subjective ratings, such as work/life balance and employee satisfaction, may also improve with flexible work arrangements.
8. Offer Multiple Scheduling Options
The best way to ensure that all of your employees are satisfied is to allow them to choose how they wish to work. By offering flexible work options, employees can choose between completely remote work, completely in-person work, or a hybrid variation. Let your employees know that they can request a different work schedule if they are not fully satisfied at any point.
9. Evaluate Job Satisfaction and Employee Performance
During these evaluations, you must be careful not to skew performance ratings to those employees who work at your physical business. Instead, use objective measurements of productivity, efficiency, and sales numbers to provide feedback and fair ratings for those who work from home.
These flexible work arrangements best practices can help you take your remote team from mediocre to thriving in very little time. Having employees work from home at least part of the time on a hybrid schedule is often a good choice for small business owners who are hoping to cut costs without losing any creativity or productivity from their team.
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