Thinking about flexible working? A strong Employee Engagement strategy is a must
Why having your people on board from the get-go is essential
Culling desks to boost business revenue
There will come a moment in every large company’s lifetime where a brief is plonked on the desk of the HR team to reduce ‘X’ number of desks in the office.
This typically follows a need to cut overheads via hot-desking or flexible working initiatives, though can also be an attempt to break down office silos and improve communication between teams.
A 2013 Vodafone UK study found that UK plc can potentially save around £34bn by freeing up desk space and working more flexibly – so it’s no surprise that more and more companies are ditching the desks in favour of flexible working. It’s also estimated to cut 533m hours per year in commuting time, which translates to a £3.8bn saving by British employees. So you'd assume staff are jumping at the chance, right?
Convincing the masses
In fact, getting employees on-board with flexible working, when they’re used to a routine and a fixed office environment isn’t an easy task, particularly if you fail to engage them from the start of the process. People can be resistant to change and can quite quickly become the protesters within your team. Negative attitudes spread quickly and can derail the project before it's had a chance to take off.
Imposing flexible working upon your teams without considered internal comms and employee engagement efforts can be disastrous. Firstly, line managers need to be fully on board. They’ll need to overcome ‘presenteeism’ culture – where employees are only deemed to be working when they’re present in the office – and trust their staff to get the job done when they’re not. Confident leadership, a positive outlook and a trustful environment are all cornerstones in implementing flexible working.
Acknowledgement of different working styles and needs goes a long way. Opportunities should be provided for staff to give feedback on their particular needs or concerns before flexible working is rolled out – whether that be catering to disabilities, acknowledging the need for certain equipment, or identifying productive working environments (or a lack of them) outside the office.
A review of this feedback will help you to decide whether a full hot-desking policy or a partial hot- desking policy will work best for your office, and highlight who’s able to work from home, from local cafes and so forth.
Communicating the benefits and reasons behind the change to staff is equally important. Employees should be made aware of a clear business case and rationale alongside the personal benefits to them.
So what are the perks of flexible working?
The advantages of flexible working are numerous. Businesses are able to hold onto valuable staff, reduce absenteeism, improve productivity and have a wider talent pool of staff (source). And employees who participate in flexible working initiatives report a better work/life balance, higher levels of motivation and job satisfaction. This stuff needs to be shouted from the rooftops!
If presented in the right way, flexible working can be very appealing. Employees need to feel supported through the transition period, which is where employee engagement and communication campaigns can work wonders.
If you’d like to find out more about the sorts of things you can do to get people on-board, have a chat to us to see how we could support you.