Allowing and catering for employees to conduct their work at atypical times that better align with their personal needs and family responsibility
Working remotely must be a core part of many organisations’ flexible working policy and culture. If it isn't, organisations risk losing top talent who require a flexible work location to meet the demands of other commitments and practicalities. While this can often be parents, this is something that all employees seek and is particularly important to those who are recovering from operations, those with caring responsibilities, certain people with neurodiverse conditions or certain disabilities who can struggle with travel or an office environment. Allowing and catering for all employees to conduct work at non-office locations meets the needs of the organisation and those of employees, maximising everyone's ability to work to their full potential.
This would also benefit neurodiverse and disabled people who may struggle with travel or an office environment.
In 2020, during Covid-19, Timewise produced a programme of free webinars and toolkits to help leaders, managers and HR teams develop future-fit workplaces with flexible working at their core: see From crisis to opportunity: redesigning the workplace.
<aside> 💡 In this article, Martin Blackburn, UK People Director at KPMG UK says, 'we support work-life effectiveness through intelligent working [KPMG's term for flexible working]. Every single one of our roles is advertised as eligible for intelligent working. Like most organisations we have a range of formal arrangements – glide time (flexibility in start and finish time), home working, part-time working, role sharing, annualised days. And of course, any arrangement is considered. If we don’t already have it formalised, truth is we probably haven’t thought of it.'
Provide remote working guidance to help managers and employees. There is a useful infographic in this guide from Career Karma and in the 'Inclusive Remote Working Guide' attached below produced by Equality Group. Below are remote working tips for line managers (shared by Mark Sellors, Head of Data Engineering):
<aside> 💡 #1 Be intentional. You can't rely on ad-hoc office chit-chat to stay on top things. Have regular check-ins and catch-ups with your team. #2 Cameras on. It might feel weird at first, but being able to see people helps to maintain social bonds and provides useful clues for when people are want to speak and so on. #3 Take the time to find out what your team need, or where they're struggling and do what you can to help. #4 It might have its challenges at first and it can seem alien and isolating, but if you put thought into your interactions it really pays off #5 Environment is rarely important. If your team are also new to remote working you may find them working from kitchen tables, sofas, cafes etc. In most cases this is unimportant. Not everyone has the luxury of a home-office to retreat to. #6 Be patient. Some people struggle with remote work initially. With no people around and the distractions of the home environment, some people take time to adjust. #7 Have no-agenda social sessions. When a team is remote, they don't necessarily engage in the kind of water-cooler chit-chat that people in offices do. Schedule 1:1 or team meetings expressly for having a coffee and a chat. It’s not about work, it’s about people.
There are a number of open-source remote working playbooks (or guides) available including The Remote Work Playbook from ThoughtWorks, and the Remote Working Playbook from Equal Experts, A Guide for Ongoing Remote Work Success by FlexJobs (attached below) and the Working Families Toolkit 2: Leading high performing flexible teams (attached below)
Gather feedback to keep improving: PWC gather formal feedback on attitudes to flexibility through its annual employee engagement survey. The survey asks employees to rate various statements on flexibility:
<aside> 💡 Case study: Deloitte, 'I would say that back in 2013/2014, we predominantly had a culture of presentee-ism in that if you couldn't see someone under your nose, you assumed they weren't delivering. And whilst we had lots of options to work flexibly, what we hadn't really done was look at whether they actually fit with the business…so we went right back to basics… and one of the issues was that there seemed to be a stigma attached to flexible working. Now 93% of our people have taken advantage of some form of informal agile working….that's huge and it's a massive change for us. And the way we've done it is calling out that if you get this right you will be a really successful organisation…and if you lead your team well you don't need to see them to know they are committed. You trust and you respect them. (Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent. Deloitte LLP, Professional Services, 17,000+ employees). Case study shared in 'Addressing the gender pay gap: employer methods', Scottish Government.
<aside> 💡 'Another strategy developed by Deloitte was the incorporation of additional unpaid leave into contractual working arrangements in order to allow people to pursue non-work responsibilities without disrupting their career. 'We invented something called 'Time Out', which is an award-winning scheme, which is effectively the ability for all our people to take a month unpaid leave every year, in addition to their other leave, at a time that suits them and the business' (Emma Codd, Managing Partner for Talent. Deloitte LLP, Professional Services, 17,000+ employees), shared in 'Addressing the gender pay gap: employer methods', Scottish Government.
The Future of Flexibility at Work