5 ways to a flexible workplace

In this day and age, where work is done isn’t nearly as important as how well, how cost-effectively, how easily and how quickly it’s done. Technology that can improve efficiency and increase productivity by enabling a flexible, mobile working environment is becoming increasingly popular: 86% of employers experience demand from employees for flexible working, and three out of four employees say that a flexible workplace boosts their job satisfaction.

So freeing people from their desk so they can work whenever and wherever they need, whilst ensuring they are empowered, fulfilled and more productive is key. The benefits are clear:
• A more efficient and productive organisation
• A more empowered and motivated workforce
• Better customer service and increased customer loyalty
• Reduced overheads
• Increased staff retention and attractiveness to potential employees
• Reduced levels of sickness absence
• More flexible working hours
The challenge, however, is as much about embracing a new mind-set as it is about technology and process.

Organisations can take five practical steps to a better, more productive workplace. Depending on its size and complexity, these steps can take a matter of a few weeks or a few months.

1. Step back.

Understand the dynamics of your workplace. Ask yourself questions like: What’s the average make-up of your employees? Do you give them the freedom and trust to work remotely? Are they accountable for specific results? Do you have clear targets to measure productivity? Is employee acquisition and retention important to you? Is employee engagement being addressed? Are you competitive when it comes to good customer service? Through a number of simple studies, employee and leadership interviews and observation studies, you can quickly get a clear picture of how your workplace is functioning.

2. Assemble, inform & inspire.

Identify and gather key people to form a change leadership team. Depending on the size of your organisation, it may be helpful to identify key personnel to form an early adoption team, too. Get them to agree on and sign up to a common vision of ‘better business’. Base it on some agreed goals in workplace productivity, use of space, communications and general employee satisfaction. Use the insight you gather from your earlier workplace studies to prioritise your goals.

3. Profile your employees.
Classify your workforce by employee type. Through observation, online surveys and workshops, you can build a clear view of how your workplace supports four major types of employee: fixed, fixed-mobile, mobile and home workers. This builds the business case for change by shifting the traditional fixed profile of a ‘worker’ to a much more flexible and mobilised workforce.

4. Plan for change.

Define the extent of change needed, based on your goals. Ask yourself questions such as: Do you need office space, every day, for every employee? Could you move to smaller offices and work even more effectively? Do you have the technology to enable your employees to work flexibly? Do they use personal devices for work? The blueprint created at this stage will define how changes in space design, technology use, employee behaviours and process simplification will deliver your vision for a better business, based on increased flexibility.

5. Make the transition.

Short, medium and long term changes will be physical and emotional; but experiencing both instant and emerging benefits will help employees adapt to the changes in company culture, the use of space and new technology. The transition will be gradual and success can only occur if employees are kept engaged and supported throughout the process.