The question is no longer whether it’s beneficial to go mobile. It’s how to adjust to mobility as the new normal in the workplace so employees can stay engaged and productive.
Modern technology allows many of us the luxury of being able to work from anywhere we need to. I say luxury because, as a marketing professional and a mother of two young children, time is sacred and fleeting. Being able to work from home saves me time that would otherwise be spent sitting in rush hour traffic or pausing work due to distractions in the workplace. I’m able to stay productive and allocate my time where it counts. And yet many businesses hesitate to offer that luxury to their employees.
When businesses can cut out the expense of having an office, employees can save time and meet everyone’s needs without having to wildly adjust their schedule. Why the fear?
Contrary to what you may think, mobility isn’t the culprit of destroying company culture and impeding great ideas from happening. That’s just because folks don’t know how to manage it.
Here are 3 ways to make a flexible work environment work in your favor:
- Like everything in life, there needs to be balance. There is a time for focus and there needs to be a time to collaborate as well. And while VoIP technologies like Skype allow us to do that on a regular basis, the benefit of in-person meetings for team building is undeniable. It not only encourages the free-flowing exchange of ideas amongst co-workers, it nurtures the bond that makes individuals feel like they are part of a team. That feeling of belonging does wonders for employee motivation and job satisfaction and that feeds into that productivity we value so much in our careers.So what is that perfect balance, you ask? In my experience, teams shouldn’t let more than two weeks go by to reconnect in person, and when they do, the format needs to be one where teams can collaborate and learn from each other, not one that consists of one-way presentations or long status updates because eyes will glaze over. Think about it. The benefit of bringing a team together is having them engage. If you want to present a status update, share it in an email where dialogue isn’t necessary.
- Ensure your team feels motivated to deliver top-quality work…even when you’re not watching. Managers can feel uneasy or like they’re losing control when they are unable see what their team is doing, which is why many implement work-from-home policies or flat out refuse to allow their team the flexibility to work from home. They don’t want to deal with the challenges that come with that freedom or allow their employees to be tempted by distractions. But if managers feel like they can’t trust their employees, then there is a larger issue that needs to be addressed. Employees won’t be successful and in it for the long-haul if they feel manipulated into doing work. To keep your team motivated, they need:
- Ownership. If something feels like it’s theirs, they won’t want it to fail.
- New responsibilities. It gives them a sense of empowerment and prevents them from feeling bored or burnt out.
- To see the big picture. So they have purpose and understand how their work is an important part of the organization.
- Recognition and gratitude. If a lot of time and effort goes into work and it goes unnoticed, they will lose steam and want to take their efforts somewhere else where they will be appreciated and compensated.
- A sense of belonging. So they feel like part of a team with a common purpose. It makes them feel valued and the support system gives them confidence in their abilities to overcome challenges.
- Regularly check in with your team one-on-one. Everyone on a team deals with personal struggles at work, and team meetings don’t always provide a forum to comfortably voice and work through that turmoil. Employees can have a hard time trusting managers with their problems or insecurities when there is a concern, especially in cases where they don’t see each other on a daily basis. Struggles that go unnoticed may eventually turn into larger issues like loss of business, broken relationships, or tarnished reputations. Weekly check-ins can ensure that despite the physical distance, employees are engaged and on the right track to success.
What has your experience been like with a flexible work environment or lack thereof? Love it or hate it?