I read an interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald the other day about some companies that had trialled a 4-day working week for employees with great success. In fact, after the trial finished, only one company out of twenty-six did not continue with the model.
This got me thinking about what we need to do if we want flexible working to become a sustainable and effective way of operating as we move forward. It is not just up to management to create a model that works, and a culture that supports the model. We all have a role to play in making flexible working a success for the company and for the staff.
I am a big fan of flexible working, be it working from home or another location, or working a 4-day week as discussed in the article. I also know not everyone would agree with my position, but over the last couple of years, as I have talked to clients about their preferences, I have a strong impression that most people actually do like the flexibility, and if used well, find themselves more productive and more balanced.
In the lead up to my new book Lead Smart being published, my publisher Wiley asked me to update Smart Work with some new content on hybrid working, which will be republished in June. One of my realisations about hybrid working and flexible working is that the best way for the workers involved to prove that it works is to demonstrate clearly that they can be as productive, if not more productive, working this way. This cannot fall on the shoulders of the individual though, it requires a team effort, and strong leadership.
I worked with a team recently who were moving to a 9-day fortnight as a trial for the wider organisation. Same pay, same expected output, but shorter hours worked. They were excited about this, but felt like they were stepping onto untested ground. It was a big shift for them, but their leader was very passionate about the wellbeing benefits for the team. He took a strong leadership role in the project, and brought me in to give his team the best chance of success by giving them the skills to work smarter and harness the power of their productivity technology to be productive wherever they worked. In fact, he strongly believed that each of his team could save one hour per day by implementing the Smart Work strategies, which exactly added up to one day every two weeks of saved time. Same pay, same output, less time.
I totally believe in this. If you have a good organising system in place, and you harness the power of the technology at your fingertips like MS Outlook and OneNote, you can get more done in less time, and be productive whether in the office, at home or in a café. But you need to step up to this new way of working, and skill up to meet the needs of a more flexible way of working.
Are you and your team equipped to be your most productive in a flexible workplace?