To put flexible working arrangements into practice there are a number of key points to help ensure it is beneficial to everyone.
What is it that flexible arrangements mean to your situation? Is it the option to come in and leave earlier, is it time in lieu, the ability to work from home or any number of variations. By clearly defining what is meant, it allows the option to be communicated and applied consistently. When a flexible arrangement is in place with an individual, make sure it is documented so that both parties are clear on what has been agreed.
Be Open to Change
Even with defining what flexible arrangements are in place, there could be additional requests made for flexibility. There should be a process to ensure the requests are able to be reviewed, and if appropriate, implemented and communicated effectively. This will allow the arrangements to keep pace with technology, legislation and society’s expectations.
Be Mindful of Perceptions
It is important to ensure those with flexible arrangements aren’t left out. Make sure that core team activities like team meetings and social events take into account those with flexible arrangements. For example, if you allow people to start and finish early, don’t always have you team building events as an afternoon\evening event. It maybe that part of your flexible arrangement has specific times of the week which are for team meetings or events; so that you maximise the participation and inclusion in those events.
Be Proactive in Task Allocation
Make the day-to-day work flow suit the flexible arrangements, and in some cases the flexible arrangements can assist the workflow to work better. When allocating tasks, especially if something unexpected arises, be aware of the arrangements in place. Careless task allocation can end up being seen as a lack of true commitment to flexibility.
Take advantage of new technologies and practices to make flexibility work for the organisation. Flexible arrangements should be seen as a positive for both employer and employee; and not a “cost” borne by the employer.
We all want to achieve success in both our professional and personal lives. To see flexible arrangements as a positive there should be visible support from senior management. An example of a supportive initiative that has been taken by some companies is a “Leaving Loudly Policy” where senior management are encouraged to be visible when they are using the flexible arrangements in place.