Managing flexible workers

Technology such as superfast broadband is enabling teleworking and other types of flexible working to really take off. More and more employees now spend some of their time remote working, such as working at home or at a WiFi hotspot. And by being able to do flexible working, they can provide better customer service. They can also spend more time working when they are at their peak, increase productivity and improve their work life balance.

Managing flexible working employees can be very different to usual management methods, where you insist your employee is in the office between 9 and 5. If you want to get the most out of flexible working, management by input or time served is not going to give you all the advantages of flexible working.

The secret of increasing productivity is management by output. Let go of micro-management and instead make sure your employees know what the business actually wants from them. Trust your virtual teams to deliver the results. Assess their performance whilst flexible working against real business outputs, not by checking how long they have spent at their desks.

Of course, this can be a very different way of doing things for some managers. Training may be needed. Take a look at the top tips for managing flexible working.

There are more challenges for the manager. Not all employees will be suited to remote working or mobile working, and some may need guidance or training. And not all roles suit - it would be a bit hard to serve customers in your shop if you were not there!

These, and other challenges, like technology, communications and teamwork, have been met by many businesses in Cornwall and we aim to share what they have learnt with you through this flexible working toolkit.

What this all means is a culture shift in management, with more focus on leadership and employee performance. There needs to be an understanding by everyone that if someone is flexible working and not in the office they are not skiving. Managers also need to understand that some employees will miss the personal contact that they have in the office and that this can be an important contributor to their motivation. With superfast broadband, you can use Skype and other video conferencing solutions to continue to have face to face meetings with your staff even when they are working at home.

The end result is better work life balance, increasing productivity and a truly flexible business.

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