The topic on our minds this time around is the effectiveness of a “flexible work week.” This has long been a simmering debate in our industry, but the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically pushed this issue to the forefront.
Once it became safer to return to the office, many people began to note how productive they had been working on their own schedules — and how much happier it made them. Some institutions started adopting what we call a “flexible work week;” an alternative to the traditional 9-to-5, 40-hour work week that has been generally accepted as the norm.
For us, the question isn’t whether or not a flexible work week is “good or bad.” Our answer to that is, “It depends on your situation.” The question that we want to explore is, “How do you make sure your flexible work week is effective?”
Luckily, we’ve got a few answers!
Shift your main focus toward results.
A traditional work week places heavy emphasis on how many hours an employee has worked and how long they are onsite. When it comes to a flexible work week, however, focusing heavily on this loses its value and can hinder your team’s productivity.
A big part of a flexible work week is trust. Trusting that your employees are good at their jobs and that they can complete their tasks in an allotted time. Shifting your focus as a leader from “time worked” to “work completed” will give you a better indicator of your team’s productivity. If team members are turning in work that meets your standards within their given timeline, the amount of time spent working becomes far less relevant.
Invest in collaborative tools.
When your team is coming into the office at different times of day, or even working from separate locations, having a “digital home base” to which everyone can report is a great way to keep each person on your team on the same page.
Finding project management software that allows your team to communicate, track deadline progress, and access common resources is one of the best ways to avoid miscommunication, misunderstandings, and missed deadlines. We use Microsoft Teams in our office.
Hold consistent team check-ins.
Whether you’re meeting in person or virtually, it’s important to get your team together on a regular basis in order to maintain relationships and engagement and to ensure that everyone understands their duties and deadlines.
Many experts recommend a daily meeting for teams, but even a weekly gathering can make a world of difference. This is a chance to check in with everyone and for your team to check in with one another about any projects they may be collaborating on together.
Stay flexible, but stay together.
The biggest risk of a flexible work week is simply disjointedness. Whether that shows up as a lack of engagement, a lack of productivity, or a lack of cohesiveness is dependent on the environment. When one of these problems shows up, there’s a good chance that more problems are on the horizon.
Choosing a flexible work week can have staggeringly positive effects on a company, but only if management is aware of the risks, and actively working to keep team members communicative, on-task, and engaged.