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

Image courtesy of Unsplash.com

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.

 

Flex Work- Are You All-In or Being Trendy?

Image Courtesy of StockPhotosForFree.com

Image Courtesy of StockPhotosForFree.com

I was inspired by the TLNT wrap-up written by John Hollon last week discussing the demographics of people participating in flex work and questioning why there is a lack of women teleworking. For more on what he said- read here.

As someone who considers herself fortunate to telework, I can tell you that merely referring to the arrangement as “fortunate” is part of the problem. You see there are many employers that still see this flex work as the ultimate privilege. It is almost as though they should be crowned best employer and have employees kneel before them for bestowing such an honor. They put unnecessary and onerous hurdles in front of employees that are afforded flex work and in turn it becomes a less desirable option.

Women in particular have been made to disclose every nook and cranny of their home arrangements. Some are subjected to presumptuous questioning regarding whether or not they have a nanny to watch their kids during telework time. While other flex work infractions have to do with being exclusive to a certain subsection of employees- leaving those with other non-familial obligations feeling singled out from the possibility of teleworking.

When the strategy becomes this entitled all or nothing process, you have to ask yourself are companies really all-in regarding flex work or are they slapping a policy together to appear as though they are a part of the growing trend?

I like what Cali Yost of CEO of Flex+ Strategy Group said in a recent press release, “Telework is not a perk and it’s certainly not just for moms and Gen Y. Rather, it’s an operational strategy.”

If you have a flex work option for your employees, is it being treated as an operational strategy or is it a wild-card policy that you pull out of your bag-of-tricks to appease employees?

It needs to be an operational strategy. Your employees both men and women are stretched at home and at work; with or without children. If the job lends itself to some flexibility- give it to them. Like most concepts of giving- try to give flexibility without ultimatums and ridiculous demands in return for this alternative.

Here are some rules of engagement if you are serious about offering your employees more flexibility:

1)  Focus on results. It is none of your business who watches their kids, if a nanny is present during telework hours, spouse’s work hours etc. As long as you are receiving their work and it is quality, focus on the results; not how they got there.

2) Trust your employees to do the right thing. If you don’t ask your employees to document what they do every minute of the day in the office, why would you do it when they flex work? Trust your employees to do the right thing unless you find out otherwise.

3)  Do not offer flex work unless you believe in it as an “operational strategy”. Everyone wins when trust and flexibility are given. The second you start to micromanage or make your flex work policy an elitist offering it will do more harm than good for the company and your brand.

According to a recent infographic by Flex+Strategy Group, 31% of workers are working from home, a business center or another location. Employers can expect decreased absenteeism and tardiness, less employee burnout, increased employee productivity as a result of offering flex work.

So I ask employers that are still hesitant about flex work- what are you really losing?

Need some innovative ideas on flex work strategies- contact us.

 

Translate »
Font Resize