The demand for flexible working is growing significantly. Recent research from the UK shows that a staggering 87% of the full-time workforce either work flexibly or wish they could.
The numbers are similar for men (84%) and women (91%), cutting across generational gaps too – with 92% of Generation Y, 88% of Generation X and even 72% of the baby boomers preferring this way of working. Stats are equally staggering in the US and in South Africa the trend is very similar.
Achieving collaboration through remote working is now a stronger possibility than ever due to mobile devices, cloud-based applications and faster connectivity. As the remote working idea is very much in demand, motivation for commuting to an office has dwindled.
We’ve interviewed a tech company, Fluenty, who have implemented the remote working model in their business. Their goal was to ensure their employees have the right tools to succeed in both their professional and personal lives which goes hand in hand with productivity, motivation and commitment. “When employees are more fulfilled in their personal lives, they perform better at work and I’ve seen this play out in many instances,” says Vincent van Wyk, Director of Fluenty.
“We therefore advocate remote working and have adopted this into our company policy by setting out some guidelines that make our expectations clear to our employees,” he says.
“For instance, we ensure that we are all physically present at the office at least twice per week to brainstorm on project deliverables and discuss milestones that have been met. We also believe in the power of knowledge sharing and skills transfer – especially in the fast-paced world of tech where one person cannot stay on top of all the latest trends all the time.”
“We believe that a flexible work policy is not only beneficial for the employees but for businesses too. Top talent flock to companies that offer remote work opportunities, especially in the IT industry.”
Another fantastic benefit is that flexible working reduces costs (overhead costs), boosts productivity and saves the company money by reducing the carbon footprint. The goal of any company should be to create motivated and fulfilled employees.
It’s good to provide guidelines to all staff so that everyone is on the same page regarding the rules for remote working so there’s no wondering or confusion.
- Permanent or Temporary
It’s important to specify to employees whether remote working is offered for a temporary period only (for a certain project or life stage) or on a permanent basis. Contracts that are then set up should outline the responsibilities for remote employees.
- Scheduled Consistency
It should be clear from the start exactly how much time an employee may spend working remotely. Also specify which days of the week they are expected to show up at the office. The same arrangement should be offered to all staff equally so this is viewed as fair.
- Response Time
It’s important to make your expectations clear in this area. Define to your remote working employees whether they should respond immediately to their co-worker and what are the acceptable modes for communicating (skype, email, watts app, phone call).
When expectations are clearly communicated between managers and employees, a healthy relationship develops between team members and management and no one is left questioning their level of productivity.
- Measuring Productivity
It’s good to stipulate in your employee contracts how productivity will be measured. Several ways can be used; the amount of time spent on a project, number of tickets resolved, project milestones completed or the amount of client interactions undertaken.
- Tech Equipment and Connectivity
For your staff to complete their tasks, they need the right equipment, software, connectivity, internet speed and online tools. Businesses need to be upfront about what equipment they will provide OR if they expect employees to supply their own laptops, PC’s and software to complete tasks.
Larger companies work on secure networks so with remote working an employee could be working from a coffee shop on a public Wi-Fi. This could undermine the security issue. If companies would prefer for employees not to work on public Wi-Fi’s, this should be stipulated in their contract.
- Client Confidentiality
Since keeping information confidential is easier in a protected space, when your employees are working remotely in a public place, ensure they understand that sensitive information should not be shared in such an environment.
If you are looking to source, attract and retain the best employees, it’s best to incorporate a flexible working and hiring policy into your talent strategy. Are you a business that is keeping up with the demand for remote working trends?