Get Flexi for Productivity

10 May 2018

Do you want to able to work from home? Would you like to choose the hours that you are at work? Prefer to climb the corporate ladder in jandals than Jimmy Choos?

Flexible working arrangements such as remote and part time work are increasingly popular in New Zealand. More than half of all New Zealand employees have some flexibility in terms of how, when, and where they work.

Studies have found that flexible working arrangements can improve staff performance, productivity, and engagement. Rather than inflate the budget, flexible arrangements such as teleworking can reduce an organisation’s overall costs.

Employers of choice make flexibility part of their brand to keep pace with employees' personal commitments.

Many Kiwis require flexibility to balance jobs with family and caring roles, achieve a better lifestyle, or graduate into retirement.

What are flexible working arrangements?

Popular formal flexible arrangements include working part-time or compressed hours, which reallocates work into a condensed week, such as four 10-hour days. Flexi-time allows workers to start and end work at their desired times, allowing them to avoid traffic or collect their children from school. Remote workers can work from home, or in a collaborative co-working environment outside of the office.

Employees can request flexibility to share their work, or to change the time or location of their work. Many employers offer informal arrangements to accommodate their workers’ personal lives. Less formal arrangements include working infrequently from home, flexibility around taking breaks, and time off to attend special events such as school events.

Managing Challenges

Despite the benefits, flexible working arrangements can present challenges.

Many employers question how to monitor and manage flexible workers. How can you supervise someone who is hardly ever at work? How do you know if staff are tuning into your training and not Youtube?

Trusting that your employee is doing the work and doing it well can be difficult if you cannot just pop by their desk and check on their progress.

Similarly, staff may be concerned about the perceived negative impact flexible working can have on their career. Reasons for this may include lack of management support, reduced access to training opportunities, and unconscious biases.

How can you ensure that flexible working arrangements work for your organisation?

  1. Trial the flexible working arrangement first – Ensure the employee is a suitable fit, by trialling the flexible working arrangement before making it permanent. Require staff to demonstrate their time management skills, ability to work without close supervision, and self-motivation, before allowing them to work remotely.
  2. Monitor performance and progress – Require flexible workers to keep accurate time records of what they are working on and the amount of time spent. Are your flexible employees performing as well as they would if they were in the office? Check that their performance is on track.
  3. Assess health and safety – Visit the employee’s home office or remote working space to assess health and safety risks. Is their home office set up ergonomically? Are there any risks from cables? Is the equipment suitable for their needs? Check if there are any other significant risks or hazards that need to be eliminated or minimised.
  4. Communicate using technology – Use technology (such as Skype and teleconferences) to keep communication lines open with your flexible employees. Agree upon communication preferences for supervision. Encourage online collaboration to ensure flexible workers keep in touch with their colleagues.
  5. Be results focused for career progression – Rather than focusing on time spent in the office, reward staff for productivity or creativity. Ensure your flexible workers have equal opportunities for career progression and promotion. Acknowledge and praise your flexible workers in their absence.

For more ideas on people management and improving productivity contact our OSEA Legal team or attend one of our OSEA courses, facilitated by Julia Shallcrass.


Julia Shallcrass | OSEA Facilitator

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