How to offer flexible work options in your business

Thursday 12 October, 2017

Once upon a time, there was a workforce that worked a full-time load each week from their workplace premises. Skip to 2017 and a wide range of part-time, flex-time, activity-based working, job sharing and work from home arrangements present modern businesses with a new realm of opportunity and challenge when it comes to workforce planning and management.


Employers are now offering alternatives to the traditional full-time standard shift in response to customers who are demanding service almost around the clock and employees that are seeking out dynamic employers that offer progressive employment solutions to support their professional and personal needs.

The rewards are highly beneficial often for all sides of the equation however, it does mean a rethink to the way we plan and manage our workforce.

Choose the work that needs flexibility...then the worker

Prior to a large Distribution Facility hiring a new full-time Case Worker for the Workforce Safety and Administration Team, it first examined the volume of their workload over a series of weeks. Insights captured on the volume and timing of employee phone calls, face to face meetings with medical providers, site visits and desk based reporting helped to identify the patterns in workload that helped to re-engineer the structure, functions and working arrangements of the team.

Working day start times were varied and staff were given the flexibility to complete administrative requirements from home rather than returning to the office. A part-time office based reporting role was instead hired to collate information towards the end of each week. The net effect of this has meant an increase in the volume of face time sessions with employees, more productive use of the team’s time and a greater sense of enthusiasm within the team as they have more autonomy to plan their workload and actually accomplish it!

While considering the various options for flexible work practices in your business, first examine your key workflows, deadlines, customer needs and requirements to determine where you need to concentrate staff efforts. Your workforce planning efforts can then turn to identifying the people, skill and time blend your business needs to meet this need.

Offering staff flexibility comes with risks. Talk with our HR experts about how to cover yourself first on 1300 135 822 

Monitoring the value of your biggest resource expense

Whether you engage with your team virtually or only see them once a week, a set of clear expectations and required outcomes for each of your workers will help them maintain focus and momentum, regardless of where the team physically works or the duration of time they spend under your nose. Labour costs are one of the largest expenses for a business.

Like any other resource in your business, you need to be able to monitor effectiveness and productivity of your people’s ability to deliver to your internal and external customers. If you can’t measure performance then you can not manage it. Performance measures will help you quickly identify the underperforming areas of the business or those where additional support may be required. 

Vital communication and knowledge sharing

Information and knowledge flow between managers and team members is vital for effective team performance, growth and culture. As teams become disparate in their working hours, it becomes a challenge for managers to establish ways to bring connectivity and cohesion to their teams. Each manager needs to set up the right operating structure for their team, both in working hours, contact time, communication techniques and collaboration activities across the group. A wide range of technology can assist in facilitating online group discussions, team video meetings, and online joint collaboration tools. The key to any of these mechanisms being successful is guidance from Managers on how these will be used and establishing protocols around the new ways of working.

Managers today are in the company of millions of their peers globally as they re-establish how they operate with a workforce that is increasingly less physically present than they are virtually. Managing this change and setting up the new standards for operating will be the key to your success…and survival in the changing world of work.

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