Top tips on flexible working: from our Accord signatories.

Late July, we held our Accord signatory chief executive roundtable event and have been reflecting on the great discussions we had. There’s amazing work going on within these organisations to create more inclusive workplaces and to understand staff and their needs.

As one Accord signatory stated Covid-19 has presented a unique opportunity to shift the dial when it comes to flexible working, and we need to “seize the moment” – it’s important we don’t waste it. Below are some of the key out-takes from our conversation.

Take a principled approach.

The big question is, how do we best go about flexible working? People don’t want to mandate – but for many of us, this is uncharted territory. Team leaders don’t want to feel a complete loss of control and have concerns about its long-term effects on things like workplace culture. Flexible working requires both individual and collective responsibility – and a great way to outline how your organisation is to approach it is to act by a set of principles.

A “principled approach” may be thought of as a deconstruction of the rule-making process. It’s the process of determining the reasons and principles behind rules. Principles can act as a foundation/guide to how an organisation should navigate flexible working – without having to enforce strict black and white rules!

Flexibility doesn’t mean there’s no structure.

Just because your organisation has adopted a flexible working culture, doesn’t mean all structure is lost. An Accord signatory shared their organisation’s approach where every morning, teams have a fifteen-minute check-in – so they all know what’s on the agenda for that day.

Incorporating established workday structure within the new ‘work from home’ future can help bring clarity within teams and help managers to maintain oversight.

Flexibility is about working with your team.

It’s not about what just works for you. Some days (even if it’s your set day to work at home) your team might benefit from your physical presence. For example, if you have an important meeting. Being physically present means you can pick up on body language and other cues, which can help ignite meaningful conversation. So, long story short, YOU need to be flexible in your approach too.

As one of our signatories stated, “working alone, you can be at home; working in teams, you need to be seen.”

Make the work environment as good as possible.

At the end of the day, firms still want their employees coming into the office – and wanting to be there! It creates a sense of culture that can’t be cultivated solely in a virtual environment.

It’s also important for younger employees to have senior, more experienced staff around to learn from. So, let’s focus on making the office environment as good as possible so it’s a place that people want to come in to!

The younger generation needs to drive this.

What happens now will likely pave the way for future generations. Senior members of firms are the wrong people to be making decisions about the flexibility the future generation will have. Young people need to drive this – find out what works, what doesn’t and shape this new way of working.

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