Workplace Flexibility: Engaging managers for success
In the recently released Shriver Report, flexibility is cited as one of the critical workplace solutions for keeping both women and men engaged and thriving at work. Yet, to date, few companies have truly embraced this new way of working and there has been little direction on how to accomplish the goal of cultivating a flexible and agile workplace culture. Research shows that very few companies were dedicating time and resources to training managers about the benefits of flexibility and providing them with the tools they needed to successfully lead flexible teams.
Here are the Top 3 Takeaways from the study:
1. WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY CAN IMPROVE TEAM COMMUNICATION AND PRODUCTITY
Managers who participated in the study and developed a Flex Team Blueprint reported improved team communication, team interaction, productivity and even customer service. In fact, 98% of managers identified no negative impact of workplace flexibility on their business.
2. ENGAGING MANAGERS IS CRITICAL TO THE SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION OF WORKPLACE FLEXIBILITY�
Issuing a policy isn’t enough; managers need to be trained on how to lead differently. They need to understand how to evaluate requests, develop a team strategy and be given coaching on how to manage the dynamics of a flexible team, and encouraged to share best practices with peers. By following this process, managers adopted flex as a business strategy. Flexibility is now “on the table” for managers and teams who participated in the study rather than being negotiated “under the table.”
3. THE STUDY PROCESS PROMPTED IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS BETWEEN MANAGERS AND THEIR TEAMS
After working together as a team to plan how they would communicate, stay connected, ensure performance and embrace technology while working flexibly, managers reported improvements in team functioning and performance. They also reported feeling more comfortable about team members working flexibly and felt more capable of effectively managing the flexible nature of their team.
The study also observed shifts in employee experience and reported perceptions of organisational culture, such as the importance of face time and 24/7 availability. Considering the brief 3-month duration of the study period, we would hope to see more sustained changes as flexibility becomes truly embedded as a new way of working, and we are optimistic about the lasting impact of the study on the three organisations.