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How Managers in Every Industry Can Support Flexibility

published2 months ago
4 min read

For most employees, flexibility isn’t just a “nice to have” benefit anymore — it’s a requirement. It’s key for their work-life balance and mental health, and it also affects their job satisfaction. In fact, nearly 3 out of 4 workers who are unhappy with the amount of flexibility they have say they’re likely to look for a new job in the next year.

But implementing a flexible work model isn’t always easy. While this can be a positive change if you’re a manager, you’ll need to shift your focus from being present at the office to overseeing employees from a distance. And while companies have a key role to play in defining their flexibility policy, it’s really up to managers to put this into practice and ensure that it works for everyone.

That’s why I created my new LinkedIn Learning course, How to Support Flexible Work as a Manager. In this 14-module course, I share key findings from my own research, and I also highlight case studies from four companies: Amazon, Verizon, State Farm, and Nielsen. Their managers overcame unique challenges to offer flexibility, and I know you’ll find their stories inspiring.

You’ll learn how to assess your readiness to support flexible work policies and select the right type of arrangement for your employees and your business. I’ll show you how to pilot your new approach, solicit ongoing feedback, and keep the lines of communication open with your team. You’ll also discover what it takes to optimize performance and productivity within a flexible work model.

Over the past decade, I’ve conducted over 60 research studies on nearly every workplace topic imaginable. I’ve also written extensively about workplace trends, one of which is the importance of offering flexibility for all employees — not just those who can work remotely or whose schedules lend themselves to flexible arrangements. This is one of the main topics I address in this course, using the four case studies as well as my own research on this trend.

I’m passionate about helping companies prepare for the future, and I believe there’s no better time than now to implement a flexible strategy for your people. Over 4 million workers continue to quit each month as part of the ongoing Great Resignation, and numerous studies have found that flexibility is one of the key things people seek out when looking for a new job.

In today’s article I’m pleased to share a sneak peek of my new course — if this content resonates with you, then I’d highly recommend you check out the full course.

How to evaluate different flexible arrangements

Once you’ve assessed your readiness to support flexible work and gathered input from your employees, it’s time to move on to the next step: identifying which flexible arrangement will work best for your team while also ensuring that it fits within your company’s policies.

To do this, it’s important to get a better understanding of what is or isn’t allowed at your organization. If your company has a written policy around this, that’s certainly something you should review. In fact, many businesses have outlined their different options for flexibility, including whether people can work remotely, how often they can do so, and whether flexible scheduling practices are allowed.

You should also think about whether there are any cultural factors to consider. Your company may discourage employees from working or sending communications after hours or on the weekends. Or it may be frowned upon for hybrid workers to go into the office 5 days a week, because this could give them an unfair advantage over those who work remotely most of the time.

Keep in mind that your company may also have rules in place when it comes to getting remote workers set-up and managing them on a daily basis. For example, employees may not be allowed to use their personal laptops for work, or your company may have security requirements. There may even be policies that describe how people’s home offices should be set-up, to ensure they have a suitable workspace. And when employees work remotely, remember that you’ll need to be able to track their time and monitor their productivity in some way.

These are all valid considerations that you’ll have to think through as you formalize your plans. In fact, this is something that I’ve worked through with my own staff, who are all knowledge workers and can work wherever and whenever they choose. While I don’t have a formal policy in place, I’ve certainly had to set some ground rules around things like communication, time tracking, and the tools they need for document storage and sharing.

But you may be in an entirely different situation, where you want to embrace flexibility for workers who haven’t had this benefit in the past — maybe offering remote work options for on-site employees, or letting shift workers determine their own hours. In fact, you might be surprised to learn that 94% of leaders believe hourly workers should receive the same flexibility benefits as salaried workers. That’s according to research from my company and MyWorkChoice, which also revealed that providing flexibility for all team members can offer a significant competitive advantage for employers.

I think it’s great that so many leaders want to extend flexibility to more of their workforce, but remember, not all companies have caught up yet. So if you’re wanting to be more innovative in your approach, I’d suggest you meet with your HR team before you move forward. Actually, it’s a good idea to consult with HR or senior leadership before you make any decisions, so you can be sure you’re adhering to company policy.

Then with all of the information, you’ll be able to make a well-informed decision about what’s possible for your team. And that means you can move on to the exciting part of this process — putting your new flexibility arrangements in place.



I hope you’ve enjoyed this preview of my new course,
How to Support Flexible Work as a Manager. The course takes a comprehensive approach to putting flexible work arrangements in place for your team, and includes these 14 modules:

Introduction

  • The role of managers in flexible workplace

Assess Your Readiness to Support Flexible Work

  • Discuss flexibility preferences with your employees
  • Balance employee and business needs
  • Case study: Amazon

Evaluate and Test Your Flexible Work Approach

  • Evaluate different work arrangements
  • Pilot a flexible work approach
  • Case study: Nielsen

Communicate and Adapt

  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Solicit ongoing feedback
  • Case study: Verizon

From Presenteeism to Performance

  • Leverage data
  • Optimize performance and productivity
  • Case study: State Farm

Conclusion

  • Embrace flex culture

Thanks for reading I look forward to having you join me on LinkedIn Learning for the full course!