• Arianna Campbell, Shareholder

Tips for Implementing Flexible Work Arrangements

In previous posts, I made the case for why firms need to consider flexible work arrangements and discussed types of flexible work arrangements. Now that you know why you need them and have selected a few types to experiment with, it’s time to share tips for implementation. Making flexible work arrangements work requires effort from both firm management and employees. With that in mind, take a look at the following tips for implementing flexible work arrangements in your firm.

Tips for Firm Management

Create a “sticky” firm culture. If your firm’s champion of flex work took a job elsewhere, would your flexible work policies wither on the vine? Firm culture – including support for flex work – needs to be so firmly embedded that it outlives any leaders who move on. Talk up your culture’s values, prove the benefits and engage leaders at all levels in communicating why flexibility is important for employees, leaders, clients and the firm.

Identify the best candidates. If you’re going to implement flexible work arrangements on a trial basis, select employees who are most likely to make the program successful. Low performers who don’t buy in to firm culture are not the best candidates for this program. Look for high performers who support the culture shift and want to see it succeed.

Understand main motivators. Instilling motivation isn’t easy, but it is necessary if you want your employees to remain engaged. Because everyone is unique with different values and ideas, there isn’t any one single strategy to keep your staff motivated. Instead, you need to recognize individual motivations and find strategies to reach each one. People are motivated by increased responsibility and challenge, money and benefits, flexibility and time off, camaraderie and fun, acknowledgement and response or personal and professional development. Consider how flexible work arrangements speak to each of these motivations.

Develop processes and leverage technology. Without the right processes and technology in place, communication can be more challenging. Create processes to ensure that projects don’t fall through the cracks just because people aren’t passing them along face to face. Take advantage of technology to automate workflow and allow collaboration from anywhere.

Embrace accountability. Some people may have trouble getting over the idea of measuring productivity based on “face time” spent in the office, but part of making flexible arrangements successful involves a shift to measuring productivity based on results rather than hours logged. Set expectations and clearly outline them in a remote work agreement.

Tips for Employees

Communication is key. Flexible work arrangements start with a culture of trust. Making it work requires willingness to be open and potentially vulnerable. Each employee should have a key contact for communicating when the inevitable issues arise. Be prepared to plan ahead and share information sooner rather than later.

Manage up. Build a relationship with your manager. When you are proactive and anticipate questions and needs, you make your manager’s life easier – always a good thing! Provide updates and schedule check-in meeting as needed. Hold yourself accountable.

Work with transparency. Be committed to following firm-wide processes designed to make flexible working arrangements possible. Be cognizant of documentation and providing enough detail that anyone in the firm could pick up where you left off. No hoarding work.

Pursue work/life integration. Work/life integration means different things to different people. Think about your definition and share it with your team. When work can be done anytime, anywhere it’s up to you to set boundaries and stick to them. Your calendar is a great tool for communication and accountability.

Be Flexible. Understand that arrangements will change and adapt over time. Be available for exceptions. Embrace learning and trying new things – especially new technology.