Dynamic Working: A New View of Flexible Working Policies Share:
- Steve Williamson, Sr. Project Manager, eRep, Inc.
- Monday, October 22, 2018
During a recent Twitter discussion with @HR_Hour about flexible working policies, eRep proposed a new way to view flexible working to reduce negative stigmas and improve its perceived value in the eyes of business leaders.
By referring to flexible work schedules and telecommuting options as Dynamic Working, we acknowledge that loosening the traditional 9-5 at the office structures we're used to provides employees the same benefits they enjoy with flexibility while giving the concept a more action-oriented and positive brand and image.
Dynamic working implies action. It has verve and denotes results and forward momentum. It also maintains the acknowledgement of flexibility that individual workers are still allowed some freedom to vector in different directions as needed yet maintaining the ‘get it done' attitude managers seek most.
Why should you consider offering dynamic working policies in your organization? According to recent surveys, most job candidates prefer employers that offer dynamic working policies. They feel valued and respected as individuals and not just warm bodies blindly filling a role. Turnover is reduced and employee engagement and morale improves.
Once we get past the labels and branding of flexible vs. dynamic working, however, long-standing concerns remain.
If we give some workers flexibility, we have to let everyone do it.
This is a common complaint amongst managers, but it is easy to handle. By written policy, give individual supervisors the authority to choose who and when employees can exercise dynamic work options. This ad hoc and in the field approval authority covers a lot of ground and handles the diverse situations each team faces, sometimes changing on a daily or even hourly basis. The downside is workers who are granted dynamic work permission one day may feel resentment or frustration when it is denied the next day. Be clear when stating policies, indicating the ability to work remotely or with a different schedule will be decided on an as-needed and as-appropriate basis, and above all be fair.
How do we know an employee working from home is actually working?
This may be the single most common complaint or concern of team leaders when it comes to employees telecommuting or working an odd shift. Although there may be some workers that slack off when out of site of their supervisor, this is rare and they likely have weaker performance even when sitting at their desk. Those who work hard at the office are just as likely to work hard from home, if not harder.
The reality is that most employees who work remotely often work harder than they do at the office. This is partially due to both a conscious and unconscious effort to counter the perception they aren't working hard. Employees often go out of their way to respond to emails or instant messages even faster than they would at the office for fear people think they're away from their desk. Some have even reported anxiety about using the restroom for fear they can't respond fast enough to an email from the boss or from a co-worker.
The solution to this concern involves both planning and trust. If you use the Core Values Index psychometric assessment matched against a Top Performer Profile™ to hire the right people for the role, they will naturally work harder and work smarter than other staff in the same role no matter where or when they are working. This kind of planning — hiring the right person for the role — pays dividends in numerous other ways as well. They are up to 200% more productive and are far less likely to leave for the competition — reductions in turnover is one of the biggest reasons to hire top performers through the CVI.
Trust is easy to understand but sometimes hard to implement for some managers. The best way to think of trust is to consider the adage, "You don't hire a chess master and then tell them how to move their pawn." If you hire top performers and give them clear guidance about what they are to accomplish, stand back and let them achieve those objectives in the way that works best for them. Trust them to do their job. You will be surprised how successful this show of respect can be at building productive, loyal teams.
How does a team stay connected between static and dynamic co-workers?
This will depend on the kind of work your team performs, but there are numerous communication and collaboration tools available at low or zero cost. Instant messaging apps like Slack are abundant and easy to set up, working across many platforms. Email is a ubiquitous and reliable standby. Mobile phone text messaging and voice calling work from just about anywhere. Skype and Facetime give face-to-face interaction capabilities, even amongst individuals in multiple locations. Desktop sharing apps like GoToMeeting and Zoom are outstanding for collaborating teams.
Rely on technology and use the tool that makes the most sense for your specific needs. Many have a moderate monthly charge, but don't be cheap about it. The cost of these tools is far less than the value they provide your team, even when they are all working in the same room.
What kind of employee personality is appropriate for dynamic working?
Some managers try to discern based on their own subjective judgment which employees would make the most out of dynamic working policies and which would not. This is a form of overconfidence bias that we've discussed before where people have an unrealistic assessment of their own abilities.
The first step is to use objective data from the individual's Core Values Index profile. A cursory study of the different core values indicates that Merchants are more likely to dislike working in isolation more than other core values; Innovator/Builders prefer it and often shine when seeking solutions to challenging solutions on their own. All core value profiles can work independently when needed, however. Some just like or dislike it more than others.
I am interested in exploring dynamic working policies in my team. How do I get started?
The first step is to get an accurate inventory of the core values profiles of your team. Have everyone take the Core Values Index assessment. Then, analyze the work requirements each individual must meet to achieve their objectives. Line these requirements up against their core values profiles and make a judgment based on the needs of the individual and the needs of the team.
Provide clarity. Establish expectations and make sure each dynamic worker is clear about their objectives. Not understanding what must be accomplished can be just as frustrating to the individual working at the office as it is if they're working from home. It is also a good idea to discuss the dynamic working arrangement with the entire team so that those staying back at the office know what to expect from those working from home or at different hours.
Business leaders often have concerns about implementing policies with potentially far-reaching effects, and rightfully so. Begin with a pilot project involving a small group of employees. Get baseline performance metrics where feasible and measure as you go. To maintain or even boost buy-in from leaders, provide objective performance metrics as things progress to highlight your successes. Be honest when expectations are not met and maintain a ready willingness to adjust things as necessary.
One final tip is to make notes about the core values profiles of employees that participate in dynamic work activities. These notes can prove invaluable when implementing policies in the future as well as when making hiring decisions as the team grows. You will find that some employees have the CVI profile to truly thrive with dynamic work situations while others prefer to stick with the regular schedule at the main office.
To get started, learn more by getting a Core Values Index psychometric assessment inventory of your team. Contact eRep today for more information.
Go to eRep.com/core-values-index/ to learn more about the CVI or to take the Core Values Index assessment.
Innovator/Banker - Sr. Project Manager, eRep, Inc.
Steve has a career in information technology and software development spanning nearly three decades. He is the author of a trilogy of fantasy novels called The Taesian Chronicles, and when he isn't writing he enjoys motorcycle adventure touring and buzzing around the skies in his home-built flight simulator.