Building a Culture of Trust and Encouragement Through Flexibility

Lexi Morgan

You may be the employer who is trying to allow flexibility at work, but maintain great productivity. Perhaps you offer alternative hours or even a telecommuting opportunity, and you’ve turned a blind eye to time spent on social media or texting throughout the day, but sometimes you feel like you don’t have a great handle on each of your employee’s work time. However, sometimes you feel as though employees are taking advantage of you.

What to do?

Let’s face it, technology makes it much easier to work anywhere, literally. Our phones offer us and our employees the ability to access work email, and our tablets and laptops with wi-fi allow all of us to work as we wait for the next plane. And, if we don’t have wi-fi available, you can hook up to a hot spot through your phone. Your employees may feel like we should be trusted to get work done anytime, anywhere, so do we have to have them in the brick and mortar office from 8-5? How do you handle that mindset without losing a handle on what your employees are really doing with their time outside of the office?

Make the expectations clear.

Make the list of expectations for the week or month (whatever is appropriate) for your teams or individual employees. Create a clear reporting form that employees can use to show what they are getting done. No matter where your employees are working, they are accountable. And, employees will feel more secure knowing that they are checking in with their progress. Both sides may see the level of productivity increase. Creating a reward system for exceeding goals is also a fantastic way to ensure that work is getting done, and employees feel encouraged to work hard!

Flexibility may trump raises.

When you feel guilty you couldn’t offer bonuses or raises for the year, perhaps look at the offer of flexibility. If the current productivity isn’t getting you the revenue you hoped for, maybe you’d see more growth by talking to employees openly about the opportunity to work from home some days or working different hours. It’s amazing how employee dedication, loyalty, and trust can be positively impacted by showing them you are offering a perk. There will always be the employees who love the 8-5 timeframe, going home, and leaving work behind, but will still appreciate the offer. For others, a flexible schedule may just make them feel like working more and harder for you.

Take the time to let it work or not.

If you’ve given it one week and decided to pull the plug on flexible scheduling, you probably need to give it more time. Or, if you have given it three months and things are not getting done, you may need to reevaluate. No matter what, make sure you know it’s working or not before you make any long-term decisions. If your employees feel like they have been offered trust, they hopefully will work hard to keep that going. It may even be that you see which employees shine anywhere, anytime, and which ones may need to be replaced.