Four Steps to Implementing Flexible Working Arrangements in Your Workplace

November 27, 2017 | Thought Pieces

Did you know that your employees’ job satisfaction is affected by the time they spend commuting to work? In England, the average acceptable commute time falls from 48 to 60 minutes per day which is fairly the same in the US where they spend 50 minutes per day. Each extra minute reduces job and leisure satisfaction of people, not to mention how it takes a toll on their mental health and the physical strain it brings. Researchers found that adding 20 minutes to the total commute time has the same negative effect on job satisfaction as getting a 19% pay cut.

Bringing that closer to home, we know that it takes us an average of 45.5 minutes to commute from work to home- that’s just one way! The average acceptable commute time may be different here, but the effects of the long commute time is apparent in the employee’s’ job satisfaction, productivity, health, and personal relationships.

We know this is a problem. A popular possible solution to addressing the employees’ woes against traffic is the implementation of Flexible Working Hours. Our government mulled over this solution. There are even laws and guidelines in place. Still, a lot of businesses are having a difficult time implementing flexible working arrangements due to multiple, compounding factors.

Perhaps you can introduce flexible working hours to your company (or team) by doing what we learned from our own experience. We started ROWE (officially!) two years ago even if we enjoyed a level of flexibility already before it was formalized. This is what we learned so far:

 

1. Trust your employees.

Question why timekeeping is even necessary and you will arrive to the conclusion that the reason is because you do not trust your employees to do their job if they do not clock in for work day in and day out. This IS the first and biggest thing you have to do. It means unlearning all of the knowledge and practices that ruled current HR policies. In STORM, we did this drastically. We just suddenly lifted all timekeeping practices. Biometrics by the doors are used solely to enter the office, not to take logs of time in. With your company, especially if you are a large firm, you can start experimenting with teams first. Try giving the option of working outside the office to teams or individuals and see how it affects them and the workers around them.

2. Set up rules and metrics anyway.

You’re gonna need it. People are going to ask about how flexible work arrangements will affect their vacation leaves or filing for overtime work. You need to be ready with an answer. Again, if the current policies are not matched for flexible work arrangement, challenge the policy. Go back to the rationale of the policy and then modify as needed. Metrics should be in place to see how productivity, satisfaction, and engagement are affected by the new flexible working arrangements. Let the data dictate your next moves. At the end of it and and flexible working hours does not pan out, at least you tried– and you have data to study later on just in case you want to try it again!

3. Hire the right people.

There are three common values and traits that people have who thrive in an environment with this much freedom: Innovativeness, achievement needs & recognition, and risk propensity. In STORM, we screen people based on our core values which include entrepreneurial spirit and relentlessness that covers all three aforementioned values and traits. Not to mention, since trust is an important element in the flexible work arrangement, you have to hire people based on how much you can rely on them. This might mean rethinking the recruitment process altogether.

STORM Application Process

4. Make going to the office fun.

When we started the company-wide flexible working arrangement, one of our CEO’s main concern is the fact that less people come in the office on Fridays. I had the same sentiment at the start so I attempted to answer one main question: Is that such a bad thing? It turns out that it was not. Nonetheless, we still have to incentivize employees to invest in social equity by coming together in the office for collaboration work and engagement activities. One thing that changed in the way we manage events is that we schedule them mostly in the middle of the week (Wednesday afternoons and Thursday nights usually) so that we ensure high participation rate while respecting the employee’s choice to work from home on Fridays.

Make going to the office fun

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

 – Steve Jobs

At the start of this year, most businesses said that they would put “implementing flexible working hours” high on their agenda due to increased demand from employees. Attracting and keeping amazing people in the company is the most, if not only, significant concern that businesses should focus on. Hearing employees out and giving flexible working hours a try is a more than worthy effort to embark on.

If this is the kind of flexible work environment that you find yourself comfortable with, we’re hiring! Visit our Careers Page today.

 


Angeli Recella is the Head of People Operations at STORM Technologies, the largest flexible benefits and employee incentives firm in the Philippines. She is passionate about startups, travel, books, tech, TV, and psychology.


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