How To Manage Flexible Working Employees
Tips for managing flexible working employees:
- Communicate well. Make sure that the lines of communication stay open and that you speak on the phone often when people are working remotely. Look out for early warning signs that flexible working may not suit the employee and take action. You may find it useful to speak on the phone every day, at least at first until you are sure that all is well. Don’t always rely on email. If you speak on the phone or meet face-to face, you are more likely to pick up any issues or worries and it will also be easier for the flexible working employee to feel they can raise any concerns informally. Not every manager communicates well. If you think you need some help in this area, ask for training. Communication is the key skill to master if you are to make a success of flexible working or teleworking.
- Use technology to make up for distance Use video conferencing (e.g. Skype, FaceTime or Google Hangouts) as a way of keeping the whole team working on a project in regular touch. You might also want to consider using Instant Messaging or similar applications to help people chat with each other in an informal way.
- Train people for flexible working Some employees who are remote working will be more self-motivated than others. Provide clear instructions and guidance as to exactly what work is required as well as clear deadlines. In some cases, employees may benefit from specific training in time management techniques, increasing personal productivity
- Trust employees Learn to trust your staff when they are remote working and let go of micro-management.
- Support flexible working You will need to ensure that somewhere is provided for all employees to use PCs and access the Internet when they are in the office, even if it is a team desk facility
- Actively encourage teamwork and social interaction If some or all of your team are remote working it is more important than ever that you have regular face-to-face team meetings. Use this time to clarify overall objectives as well as make sure everyone is clear on what they are meant to achieve. As manager, it is up to you to provide the overall vision. This will help your remote working staff feel motivated and see where their role fits in
- Manage by output not input As a manager, you will need to focus on deliverables and results instead of presence and activity. You will need to find other ways of checking that your employees are engaged and on track. Remember that there are a hundred visual cues that you usually use every day as a manager to check whether an employee is motivated and understands what he needs to do. You will need to identify ways to compensate for this visual feedback. Make the shift to management by output rather than management by eyeball. Also, your remote employees are missing out on the visual cues that tell them that their work is valued. When in the office, the fact that you smiled or said thank you when they delivered a report, for example, may have added to their sense of motivation. So remember that your remote employees also need you to confirm that their work is valued and give them positive feedback.
- Change the culture The employees who are office based may feel resentful of remote workers. Make sure that they know why the flexible working system has been put in place and consider how their own roles may need to change to complement the staff who are remote working.
- Be clear about what you expect. If you need remote working employees to be available to be called or emailed at a particular time, make it clear in advance. If you call and there is no reply, you should not assume that the employee is on the beach! Expect that the employee will not always be at the end of the phone, unless you have made it clear in advance that you would like him to be. It is also important to specify any other expectations that you have in advance. Then the employee will have a clear framework to work within.
- Recognise that people have a life outside work. Your business will enjoy increasing productivity. But it is crucial that you make sure that your flexible working staff understand that they are not expected to be on 24 hour call, if they are working remotely. They should make full use of the “Off” buttons on their computer and mobile phone.
- Lead by example Work flexibly and show others how well it can work, as well as enjoying the advantages of flexible working and a better work life balance yourself.
- Lead well, manage sparingly Set overall goals and objectives, be clear about required outputs then leave it to your staff to excel. They should have improved work life balance and the business will see increasing productivity. A win-win. If you have any feedback, questions or need more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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