Technology and HR Revisited: Cease the Flexible Work and Collaboration Excuses

Technology and hr revisited- Flexible Work

Why does your entire workforce need to be seen in the flesh? Can you provide three reasons why you need to have your staff physically present themselves to work that doesn’t begin with “Our internal customers” and end with “need facetime”? Among the other excuses for why flexible work arrangements can’t happen are:

1) How will I know they are truly working?

2) If I allow one person to a flex work arrangement, everyone will want it.

3) I need my people here doing the work.

The Supply and Demand of Flex Work and Collaboration

According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com , 50% of the US workforce holds a position that is compatible with at least a partial telework arrangement. GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com goes on to report that 80-90% of US workers would like to telework or flex their schedules at least part-time to allow for concentrated work at home and in-person team collaboration via the office. Technology has made it so that we can be productive whether we are sitting in an office or at the doctor’s office. You need to check emails- our mobile devices make that possible on-the-go. Is there an online meeting coming up that you need your staff to attend? Most online meeting platforms have an or mobile optimized site for people who need to a join meetings from where ever they are. Many years ago, we could say “no” to telework, because the technology wasn’t there. Now that we have virtual workspaces, cloud storage, and video technology that allows us to collaborate and remain connected with our teams- what is the excuse?

The Telework and Flexwork Challenge

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If we are honest with one another, the nature of work is changing. It’s changing at an uncomfortable pace that appears to threaten our traditional way of doing things. Change is both uncomfortable and inevitable. However, the case of telework and flexible work arrangements seems clear. The workforce wants it, the technology is ripe for facilitating it- yet organizations are still relying on antiquated ways of thinking to approach this topic.

 

As Human Resources professionals, it is key that keep a pulse on what is needed by our workforce versus constantly campaigning for what the organization needs. No one wins when there isn’t some compromise. The issue around telework isn’t with the employees wanting it, but with our reluctance to evolve with the times.

Let’s be clear, not everyone in your workforce will want to work from home. Working from home requires discipline. There are employees that will naturally prefer to come to the office for a more structured environment. This puts to rest the idea that if you offer one employee a flex arrangement that suddenly a stampede of employees will be outside your door. For those that either need or want to telework or flex work, it is as simple as sitting down with them and figuring out a schedule that not only helps the employee, but compliments the needs of the business. After teleworking two days a week for two years at my previous company, I can tell you that my internal customers were well taken care of, interviews conducted and projects were on target. Granted, my then employer had me filling out work plans to show “proof” of my work from home; but they could never deny the fact that I was productive. Which brings me to the point of trust. Much of the challenge with managing a virtual or mobile workforce has to do with a lack of trust. There is a lack of trust with the collaboration tools and technology that make these arrangements possible and in some cases not semblance of faith in your employees. Think of it like this, if you are asking for a telework arrangement and you choose to abuse that privilege by not working as you would in the office- who loses? In some regard, the employer loses due to lack of productivity. However, most people who ask for flexibility need it more than it being a “want”. That said, the egg is on their face if they fail to work to standards and do what is expected of them.

What’s my Call-to-Action?

Cease the excuses for why telework and flexwork arrangements can’t happen. Instead, look at all of the instances where it is possible. Use a mix technology to keep your team engaged and connected. The need for face-to-face interaction isn’t going away yet. In the meantime, look at the endless possibilities on-demand video technology provides. Video not only makes it possible for teams in different parts of the world to meet and collaborate, it allows candidates to record an interview without missing a day of work and tipping off their current employer. I’m certain that some dedication to helping people work smarter and more flexibly can only help your talent management efforts. It’s all about adapting to what makes sense for your workforce while getting things done.

What will you do to kick the telework and flexwork excuses to the curb?

Want more? Click here to watch the latest “Ask Czarina” episode on this post on  “The Aristocracy of HR” You Tube Channel.

 

Are You Ready To Pivot?

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One of the things we HR practitioners get dinged on consistently is our ability to be flexible. Yes, there are compliance pieces and yet other things that we must oversee and manage in HR, but is there no flexibility in how we roll out our programs, initiatives and policies?

Being in business has taught me that one of the most important things we need to be able to do is “pivot”. The definition of “pivot” as a verb is “to turn on or around from a central point”.  In HR, we are the central point in the organization. It is the place from which all operational and transactional aspects of the business’s workforce emanate.

When you are asked to step slightly out of your comfort zone which is standing right at that central point- do you?

1) Tell your business partners an emphatic “no”.

or

2) Hear your business partners out and find ways to stand at your central point while pivoting to allow them some flexibility in how they accomplish what you need them to.

Pivoting in business is no longer a best practice-it is the way we need to support our partners in doing business. Owners of businesses have to pivot all of the time whether it is regarding the direction of the business or who they market a product to.  Doing things the same way with a sentiment of rigidity, control and authority is no longer the way we need to support the business. Just as business is changing so should the discipline of HR and how we do things.

The key to success is to have a basis by which you operate but not to impede progress for the sake of rules or compliance. Instead of saying “no” try listening, discussing and providing a new path for your partners to achieve their expected outcomes.

Consider these scenarios…

Has an employee asked you for some flextime to deal with personal obligations lately? Ask yourself this, are they a good employee and will this adversely impact the run of the business? If your answer is “no”, pivot and offer your employee some flexibility.

Does one of your hiring managers want to try a new platform for recruiting a specific professional that may cost more than what you usually pay for advertising? Pivot. Ask questions, find out more and offer he or she some alternatives if the option they have suggested isn’t budget-friendly.

I’m not just looking at you HR, this also applies to those running businesses that haven’t figured out the importance of pivoting. For all of your business savvy and vision, sometimes the reality of business or market conditions is very different. We are all part of an economy where the needs of the customer and the demand for products and services are rapidly changing.

Would you rather to hold on to a vision that no longer translates to a profitable business or might it make sense to pivot and explore new ways of serving your customers?

These are the types of considerations that businesses and those that support business owners need to be mulling over in 2014 and beyond. Pivoting is a business imperative not a new year’s resolution.

Here’s how you can work your way to pivoting today:

1) Start listening to customers, business partners, associates more.

2) Take every concern or suggestion you receive seriously and think about ways you can make each situation easier for your partners without forsaking you position.

3) Discuss possible alternatives with your customers/partners and allow for their input on how you reach the desired outcome.

4) Enjoy the fruits of having more collaborative relationships, because you were able to consider solutions and viewpoints other than your own agenda.

How will you pivot this year and how can I help you?

 

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