Getting Flex Right

There is no one size fits all but we there are some proven key steps employers can take to create a successful flexible working culture.

1. Listen

It might sounds obvious. If you’re going to create a more flexible working culture with more choice you need to know what people want. The first, and most crucial step, to creating more flex is to listen to your people.

Explore what it feels like on the ground to work in your organisation through surveys, focus groups and one to ones.
Find out what flex people are already doing, what they want and what barriers they perceive.
Continue to listen through follow up surveys as part of your overall process for measuring the impact of flexible working.

2. Secure Senior Buy-in And Make Flex A Strategic Priority

For best success flexible working should be embedded into your core business strategy and not a ‘bolt on’.  You will also need buy in and support from senior managers – people take their cues from people not policies.

Ensure your commitment to flex to is communicated authentically right from the top of the origination.
Enlist senior leader champions/sponsors to drive this agenda and actively ‘role mode’ flexible working.
Align flexible working to key overall business objectives, set targets and make sure you have measures in place to measure success.

3. Create Frameworks For Success

While successful flex involves handing over more control to employees its can be helpful to create an informal flex framework, or guidelines, outlining what’s feasible. And where there are red lines. This is invaluable to line managers and helps with decision making.

Create guides and FAQs for managers and employees.
Ensure the infrastructure needed for success is in place such as technology.
Update/create relevant policies such as flexible working, home working, etc.

4. Support Line Managers

If line managers are going to manage teams that are working differently, perhaps with more remote working, or different hours and shift patterns, they will likely need support to adapt and continue getting the best from their team. It’s also highly likely they will need to have difficult conversations with people about what kind of flex is and isn’t possible. Having clear guidelines as well as training, mentoring and role-playing scenarios is well worth the investment.

Encourage managers to have regular one to one’s and check ins and where set clear objectives are agreed - and to enable them to manage based on output (not hours).
Ask managers to work with their team to create team protocols setting out how flex will work in practice ie commitment to scheduling key meetings when everyone is available.
Use trail periods for new working patterns.

5. Keep Communicating

Make sure you keep talking about flex. So everyone across the organisation , whether they’re a line manager, or an employee, knows what’s possible, and that it’s ok for them to ask about it. This can be via intranet hubs, emails, internal blogs or events, team meetings and 1-2-1s.

Create and communicate a high level vision/guiding principles which set out your organisation’s commitment to flex.
Recruit flexibly by explicitly referring to flexible working options in each individual job advert/description.
Share what you are doing (and why) with clients and stakeholders and how, if at all, it may affect them.

Ready to explore how flexible working can benefit your business and your people? Our team of flexible working experts are ready to help