Three ways to thrive in a flexible work environment

Covid has changed much over the past two years. And probably one of the most significant differences is in how we work. 

Pre-Covid, most people were expected to physically travel to their office or workplace every day. And while some people worked remotely, flexible working was very much the exception rather than the rule. 

But with much of the world spending significant periods of time during the pandemic in lockdown, companies needed to adapt. Businesses that formerly believed work could only effectively be completed in a desk in their premises were suddenly forced to find ways for their employees to work from home. 

And as we start moving to a post-pandemic future, this new way of working appears to have stuck. Companies have discovered they could save money by having fewer staff work from an office. And employees realised they could work just as well without the need to commute. 

It also liberated companies from hiring talent solely from their local area, and freed people to work for organisations pretty much anywhere. 

So as we move to a new hybrid/remote/flexible working future, how can we ensure we get the best out of it? In this informative post we share three ways we can all thrive in a flexible work environment. 

1) Have a plan

Like the saying says, when it comes to flexible working, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Successful flexible working doesn’t just ‘happen’; it’s carefully considered, with all possible pros and cons worked out. 

What works for one company, won’t be suitable for another, so it’s important to design a plan that gets the best out of your employees, while delivering on the company goals. 

Plans need to take into account people’s needs too. For some, coming into the office works best for them – they can be more productive and happy. While others will achieve more and feel better at home. 

2) Find a way to socialise

One thing many people miss out on when they work from home is socialising with their colleagues. They don’t get to chat while making a coffee, go to lunch together, or meet up after work. Younger employees especially value the social element of work – it’s where many people meet friends and even partners.

So how can you ensure that your employees don’t miss out on valuable bonding and collaboration if they’re not all working in the same space? Or are able to get support and advice from each other, as they would be able to in informal office chats?

One way is to organise physical social get togethers. These can be outings to the cinema, meals, quiz nights or fun sports events out of the office. You may also decide to have ‘work from office’ days when you bring teams in to work together. Just make sure that whatever event you organise is inclusive so no one gets left out. 

You can also encourage socialising virtually by encouraging your teams to establish a channel in the software they use for collaboration, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, for personal, non-work discussions. 

The manager of each team can be responsible for encouraging conversation. Perhaps with the kind of morning chat you might have when greeting colleagues at work, as well as some conversation openers to help understand how people are feeling, such as:

  • How are you today?
  • What did you do/watch on TV last night?
  • What are you finding hard right now?
  • What are you enjoying right now?

Not only will this help people bond as a team, but you can also check that people are doing okay, and maybe pick up anything they are struggling with early on, before it snowballs into a bigger problem. 

3) Test your flexible work plan

Once your flexible set-up is operating you need to check that it works. However well-planned it may be, you don’t know how people will respond to it, or how it will effect the running of your business. 

So make sure you have set goals and benchmarks you want to achieve before you start, and measure how your plan is working against them regularly. Keep in touch with managers to check the new set-up is working for them and their teams, and conduct surveys with your employees to find out what they think of the arrangement, how it works for them, and whether they have any suggestions.

Don’t be afraid to try new solutions and change what needs tweaking. Think of flexible working as a work in progress, and something that will adapt over time. 

Photo by Surface