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Flexible work. A new norm and are we loving it or NOT?

Annabelle Kirwan

I recently finished providing support for an organisation formalising their Hybrid Working Arrangements which have become the new norm for some businesses and industries. It was enjoyable to work with executives who had realised that the success for these new methods of work are reliant on their front-line managers in the business.

Employees of course need the framework, policy, and procedure to know what is in and what isn’t. People like certainty. Ambiguity can leave some making their own rules. It was interesting developing the framework and asking managers to consider Hybrid Working Arrangements that were more than just individuals working from home.

In our new working environments, employees are expecting more flexibility on when and how they are required to contribute. Flexibility that aligns with their Life/Work balance, life in general and being able to live at the forefront of this brave new remote world.

What is included in these new Hybrid Working Arrangements?

Flexibility relating to;

  • Location, home, office, other locations such as when they’re on holiday with their family.

  • Start and finish times, starting earlier or working later. Shorter days with some longer days when required. Also changing working days e.g., work on a Saturday or taking Monday off.

  • Working longer days with more days off e.g., 4 days’ work, with 3 days off.

  • Changing their work engagement, e.g., part-time instead of full-time

  • Dual roles (2 or more employment contracts) e.g. A part-time nurse with 2 days frontline and 2 days as an admin assistant.

For the employer who wants to be seen as an Employer of Choice, it is imperative to be open to these new ways of working, with a “Why not attitude”, instead of “Why would we”. These new Hybrid Working Arrangements come with more responsibilities for Managers. How to track who is where, when and who is meeting the clients and customer’s needs.

Writing the policy, procedure and framework which set the what’s in and what’s out for the organisation was reasonably clear. Training and supporting the managers was the more challenging (and more satisfying) aspect of the work.

Of course, it is expected that organisations have the technology in place to support these new ways of working, and managers also need to have been coached and supported on how to work and manage their teams utilising technology platforms. This is certainly not through constant Team Meetings and conversations.

Some of the lessons learnt for organisations and managers are:

  • Know and document what you want/need to be delivered. Publish and share this with employees.

  • Ensure employees are trained and know how to work with SharePoint (or similar document sharing systems).

  • Coach managers on communication styles and methods. An oldie, but so important now. When to call, when to email, when to have a meeting and when to use a message board.

  • Document what has been agreed as the organisations Hybrid Ways of Working, have a framework and document the expectations on both the organisation and also the employee.

As a transition to retirement contractor coming in to help organisations to navigate these new hurdles of our working environments, this is my own Hybrid Way of Working.

Macarthur Human Capital: Unleashing the competitive edge, driven by people

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