Top 5 tips to working flexibly and still achieving success

When Lysha Holmes first set up her recruitment business in 2005 after the birth of her eldest daughter, the work culture was very different to where we see it today (with more and more companies offering flexible working to their staff).

I was the rarity and now that we see 75%* of Millennials (Powwownow survey) demanding it, working parents and carers need it…. yet not everyone succeeds in achieving or maintaining their performance levels and I thought it would be useful to share my insights and experience with my top 5 tips to working flexibly yet still achieving success in business.

 

1. Structure

 

Employees

First and foremost the key is to ensure you still maintain a structure to your day. Setting goals the night before, a ‘to do list’ of what you need to accomplish in the day- priorities at the top of the list. Sticking to the structure that has made you achieve success in the past and understanding when you are most productive is critical. There is a really interesting premise explained in a podcast on The Tony Robbins platform which explains how understanding your most productive times of the day – which is unique to everyone reading this!- so you will ensure you don’t waste the valuable peak times of your own cycle. https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/tony-robbins/the-tony-robbins-podcast/e/58885724?autoplay=true&refid=asi_eml  What do you think? Are you a lark like me?

 

Employers

Ensure that there is a way to monitor the structure and activity of your staff members; whether that is a cloud based CRM system, an intranet or simply by using a shared google calendar of appointments. Empower your staff however this will ensure the formal structure is still adhered to. Encourage creativity with the structure that they use and if possible encourage them to be totally in charge of how they structure their day to get the best of it productivity wise! It does take a brave employer to do this especially for larger businesses.

 

2. Accountability

Employees

Working flexibly does not by ergo mean working less. It means you work AROUND your other life commitments. Therefore, this is why flexible working suits those who have  true accountability- whether that be to their boss, colleagues or themselves in equal importance! There is such a misconception that those who work flexibly are getting an easy ride. Having accountability means a reason for achieving and superseding their goals. Be clear on what you need to achieve and this is why SMART goals daily are essential. Don’t abuse the trust placed in you; maintain regular contact with your colleagues and boss to show that you can be trusted.

 

Employers

Do you know what makes your staff tick? Their personal as well as professional goals? Why they have to ask for flexibility? what is their home environment like? By taking time to understand all of these elements you will understand what is making the staff member accountable to themselves as well as you! A very enlightened and empowered way to manage your staff.

 

3. Technology

 

Employee

Technology has enabled the world to become a flexible place to succeed- we can log on any time to cloud based systems, be reachable 247 even on a beach or a train (sometimes…!)

Before you start working flexible, do you fully understand the CRM system you will use? Make sure you are fully up to date so you can populate the information and not create future problems with intellectual property.

 

Employer

Invest in the best tech possible- even if you are a small enterprise with a handful of staff. It will ultimately protect your business if you can ensure the CRM system you use (GDPR compliant of course) has the data on to ensure you have a scaleable business, regardless of where your workforce is based. There are some incredible examples of companies who have scaled up a global workforce who all work flexibly and remotely – have a look at www.people.travelcounsellors.com as a great example of who’s done it brilliantly

Good tech doesn’t need to cost a fortune- shop around and you could even consider bespoke SW to simplify your processes.

 

4. Communication

 

Employee

Having strong communication channels back into the business, your colleagues and boss are essential so understand the expectations before it ever becomes an issue. If your boss is happy with a weekly f2f catch up that’s fine; a daily call to hear your plan, then great. But don’t abuse the communication expectation from either side… either becoming a pest and not being able to make your own informed decision nor being unavailable when you should be! Feedback is essential in any successful content partnership and so be honest if you feel a little isolated or ignored.

 

Employer

In businesses I have witnessed who have trialled and failed at rolling out flexible working for all have given communication (or lack there of!) as the main reason it didn’t work out. Don’t assume that someone working flexibly will communicate as well as they should- it is up to YOU to set the expectation and so if a daily call is agreed, make sure you set the standard and make it happen! Equally, if you think there are issues, nip them in the bud quickly before they escalate out of control and cause further problems. Flexible working can often have an impact on other staff members who either don’t request or perhaps don’t fit the profile of those who CAN flexibly work so your INTERNAL communication as to why certain individuals have flexible working is VITAL to the symbiotic way everyone will continue to still work towards your company goals and values.

 

5. Evaluate

 

Employee

How is it really going for you? Are you benefiting from flexible working? Are you managing to switch off or are you now 247 and burning yourself out in the process. It is essential to evaluate weekly how you are getting on both professionally against your targets but also emotionally as to how you are performing and be candid with yourself and your employer: do you need further support, training, better communication. Being a flexible worker does not mean you are invisible! So ensure you are still a huge part of the company you chose to join!

 

Employer

Those who you allow to work flexibly should feedback  to you and you should then by virtue evaluate the impact they have on the overall business performance- is the productivity of flexible workers greater – according to a survey by AAT, it would appear this is the case for many.

The overall advice I would give to both employer and employee is that TRUST is the over-riding element in making this a success for all involved.  Those awarded with flexible working are advocates for everyone else pushing to make the work culture for future staff as flexible as possible.

Thank you Lysha for sharing such a great insight into how flexible working has worked for you. Does your business have a flexible working policy? Is it something you would consider? Lysha would welcome your thoughts and happy to discuss.

 

Lysha Holmes – www.quirecruitment.com

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