Ever consider offering flexible working? If you’re like 88% of Canadian companies, you are already. Flexible working, whether telecommuting or allowing employees to work schedules that are personally customized, is part of the evolution that is taking place throughout the modern workforce. The workplace has evolved. As the traditional definitions of ‘work’ have changed, so has the way it gets done.
Mobile workforces, where work is conducted outside of the office environment, is becoming increasingly popular. In 2010, 16% of the global workforce was employed in mobile working situations and it is expected that by 2020, this number will increase to 35%. Work may be conducted at home, co-working environments, even third party locations such as Starbucks. Many companies welcome this format as they save on the physical cost of having an employee in-house, especially if there is limited office space or the need to have employees in diverse geographical locations. Many employees also welcome the flexibility and appeal of mobile working arrangements. Freelancing and contract employment is increasingly popular, both with younger workers as well as with baby boomers nearing retirement and particularly within the creative, communications and IT industries, among others.
Moving away from the traditional may pose some challenges for companies not ready to make the transition. How are employees evaluated when not working on the premises? How do companies fulfil their legal obligations? If engaging overseas workers, how do businesses address differences in language and culture, even time zones? To address these issues, companies need to create a plan to prepare for the inevitable shift.
Creating your virtual team
It is important that when companies move to more mobile workforces, they address the mission, purpose and success measures of these workers against those of the overall company. Clarify expectations of line managers and clearly communicate objectives and guidelines to the remote employees. Building relationships, whether through regular phone and email communication, periodic meetings or video conferencing, will help both employer and employee feel connected and is increasingly accessible through free online platforms like Skype and now Google+.
Other considerations include defining objectives and process for each job rather than having one company policy. As different departments and individuals have different work styles, what works for some might not work for all. Consider what working environment remote employees will use — will they be at home or in a coworking facility? Will they have children or other distractions? Do they have to work a traditional 9 – 5 work day or work flexible hours as long as the work gets done? Every company and arrangement will have its own unique issues and challenges and the job will often fall to the human resources department to ensure that all objectives and priorities are met.
Flexible and mobile working is no longer a choice for companies. It will become increasingly popular, even expected and may also help companies manage efficiency and expenditure while creating an often favourable attractant for many potential employees. Job seekers have choice when they seek employment and companies need to adapt and embrace new forms of work style or risk remaining stagnant in a business environment that is constantly moving forward.
Related to Making it Mobile:
- Ideas for offering flexible work options
- The next frontier in the war for Canada’s talent
- Attract and Retain Top Talent
Tags: employee retention