Lay A Solid Foundation For Your Flexible Work Environment

The traditional, nine-to-five office model is in decline. More and more employers make the distinction between getting work done and just filling chairs.

Renewed attention on work-life balance, particularly among Millennials, and easy, affordable access to

technology are making the virtual office more and more attractive for employers and employees alike. It’s a win-win because when employees are more satisfied, they stay longer, are more productive and develop their skills more deeply. Plus, workplace flexibility is a powerful recruitment advantage that can really help your firm stand out for top talent.

It’s a bankable benefit that, if done correctly, can increase retention and significantly reduce costs though reduced footprint and facilities.

ALMOST ANYONE CAN GO FLEXIBLE—IF YOU KNOW HOW Big companies like Cisco are embracing the change and making it work for their business. But increasingly, the benefits of flexible work environments are within reach of small businesses and entrepreneurs, too.

Whether you’re thinking of rolling out flexible work benefits, or already managing an ongoing flexible work program, there are some steps you can take to make sure a flexible environment works for you and your employees.

1. Hire right. Not everyone is suited to a flexible work schedule. Make sure your candidates are vetted for the proper personality fit to your flexible work model, and if working with an outsourced HR firm, have them make this determination for you.

2. Put it in writing. Not all roles are created equally flexible, and in small businesses, several roles are generally combined into a single person. Beyond personality fit, the role has a lot to do with who can flex—and to what extent. Make it a written handbook policy to detail which roles are eligible for which flex benefits. Putting it in writing, especially for new flex program rollouts, will save a lot of arguments.

3 Make sure it’s working. Going hand-in-hand with policy is the measurement of your flex employees’ produc- tivity. When it comes to reviews, see how movement in KPIs tracks with changes in flexible work environment.

4. Get the tech. There are a ton of great options to keep everyone connected and productive, whenever and wherever they’re working. Basecamp is an affordable option that promotes virtual collaboration with file sharing, project management, to-do lists and more. It really shines on Android and iOS devices, too. Office365 from Microsoft provides the full Office suite of productivity programs, plus file sharing, email, calendars and videoconferencing through their relaunched Skype for Business client. There are countless other options, mostly affordable, that offer other specialized functionality.

Like any workplace culture initiative, flexible work models require planning and management. But done correctly, they can pay huge dividends for both employer and employee.

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