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Flexible working: Moving from time-based to an outcome-based approach

Flexible working isn’t new. In fact, research shows that many of us (87%) wanted to work on a more flexible basis in 2018 and 2019. What is new, however, is that many business owners have been forced to implement flexible working with no planning or preparation beforehand and for an undefined period of time. Thanks to the domino effect of chaos that the Coronavirus has caused in the economy, employers have also had to transition from a time-based approach to one that is more outcome-based to make it through this storm.

It’s a steep learning curve - having to change leadership styles over the space of a few weeks to effectively manage a completely virtual team – but it is doable. Here is how to make flexible working work for you and your business.

How to successfully implement flexible working

  1. Make sure that employees have the right technology and tools – we’re not just talking about laptops and phones. To support flexible working, you also need to deploy tools for chat, video and virtual meetings as well as integrating company systems, intranets or social platforms. 

  2. Ensure that your employees have the necessary training –you need to make sure they have the resources and training so that they can use any new software effectively.

  3. Change your management style – you need to take a more ‘coach-like’ approach and let go of control. Train and support your employees and delegate authority as well as tasks.

  4. Communicate more frequently – this is essential for building trust and relationships and to minimise misunderstandings. The more you can encourage collaboration and team involvement, the better.

  5. Celebrate successes – positivity is key when working from home so make a point of celebrating individual and team successes. It does wonders for self-motivation. 

  6. Give your employees more support – many employees will have difficulty managing their workload with their family and other worries. Help them with their work-life balance.

How do I move to an outcome-based approach?

  1. Start with the overall business vision and direction – when working virtually, it’s important to communicate the overall vision to your employees. Everything flows from this vision, so keep coming back to it.  

  2. Define high-level business outcomes – next, you should communicate the key business outcome that you are all aiming to achieve. It’s more effective if this outcome reflects the value that your work delivers.

  3. Help each employee define their own specific outcome – this is essential for remote working! If every individual knows their specific outcome that they are accountable for and how that relates to the bigger picture, it drives them to achieve it.

  4. Measure performance differently – you will need to use a project management tool to review team activity regularly. You can also distribute employee surveys, monitor and evaluate certain metrics or have regular check-ins with each employee.

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