Do you want to create flexible work policies?
If you were to ask people what they have learned from the pandemic, what has changed in their lives and their current needs, you might be surprised by the answers.
Having different viewpoints and preferences is nothing new. The differences are what make us. However in some environments such as the workplace, these preferences can sometimes cause more harm than good if they are not looked into and managed.
Imagine a senior manager who for the last almost 18 months of working from home was able to bond with the family regularly and has been driving kids to school in the morning. If such a person was to be told be arriving to work by 7:00 am and miss out on the moments, there are very high chances of resistance and resignation if the needs are not even considered. Losing such an experienced period is expensive.
This example is for emphasizing the importance of exploring how the differences interplay to create a work environment that is suitable for all.
On this note, we will look at how you can reconcile different preferences and come up with policies that will accommodate the most pressing needs of every employee.
- What do your employees want most?
The truth is that the perception of how workplaces “should” be and the work itself has changed, and the same can apply to you. The busy parents, early birds, and night owls have seen that they have a chance of working at their most productive hours.
Many people have seen that the definitions of a workday and workplace are not set on stone. A workday does not have to start at 8:00 am and end at 5:00pm as it has been for millenia. It can as well start at 11:00 am and end at 8:00pm and the results will be the same, if not better.
As a decision maker in the workplace, the much you can know about the perception of work and workplaces is the much you ask, which is why we are taking you back to the core statement of, “what do your employees want?”
Seek to understand their needs first and amend your work policies later. This will show you the areas that need serious revision.
Also, the chances of being able to accommodate every need is low, but when your employees know that you have the best interests at heart and are working in the background to create a wonderful environment, that is a good enough source of motivation.
- Compile the data and simplify
Whether you are collecting data using survey forms or in a casual conversation, in that raw state, it is impossible to come up with anything insightful.
To get the most out of the data, classify the results into major categories such as working hours, working location, working days, incentives, trainings, team work, resources, and others. You can go a step further and classify using a unifying personal characteristic all with an aim of simplifying and highlighting the action points.
For instance, some parents may want to start their workday an hour later to drop their kids in school and extend in the evenings and some may want to start an hour early and leave early to pick up their kids.
How do you harmonize the two without affecting the workflow?
If you are alone, finding the answer can make your head spin. But sitting with the people who have (closely) related desires for brainstorming will help you to understand in great lengths what they are looking for and how they think it can be achieved.
You can also list the requests as per order of importance; that can serve as an indication of what could be pulling some areas in the company behind.
- Examine the possibility of applicability
As mentioned above, you will not be able to accommodate all needs. So beware of a “you-want-it-we-do-it” mentality as it might invite negative change in the company.
You have an obligation of doing what is best for your company, part of which will include declining some requests. In addition, what could be working in other companies might harm yours.
In this regard, you ought to go back to your company’s activities and objectives and see which of the employees’ preferences are applicable.
- Is it possible to change the policies as per the request?
- What will it take to for instance switch to fully remote or telecommute?
- Do you have to buy new portable equipment or hire more people in the IT department? Do you have the resources?
- Will you lose clients who still prefer in-person visits if you switch to remote fully? If yes, what is the approximate number? Can you afford to lose them?
- Will anything be at risk if you implement some changes?
- Are the risks manageable?
- Do the benefits of the move outweigh the risks?
- Can you afford the entire transition?
- Are you willing to do it?
Answering some of these questions truthfully will drive you closer to drafting a comprehensive work policy. Invite experts to help you in drafting.
- Be willing to change
Knowing what your employees want, simplifying the data, and examining if they can be implemented are the first steps of creating flexible policies.
You should also be willing to change the policies where necessary for the greater good of the company. You can overcome the fear of revising some of the policies that you may have seen as standards and non-negotiable for years by seeking experts’ opinions and benchmarking.
- Inform your team about the changes , implement and monitor
Once the hardest part of drafting flexible work policies is done, the next step is implementing the changes and monitoring the results.
One thing to note is that the changes may not be accepted immediately hence should not be quick to erase them. Be willing to help your team as it makes the transition and consistently seek feedback.
Monitor the results from many dimensions such as work management, financial, social, and productivity and amend where necessary.
Note that the process of drafting workplace policies is never ending as there are changes happening around us.