By Andrew Millard, Senior Director, International Marketing, Citrix
According to research from Sage UK, reported on Fresh Business Thinking recently, one third of UK SMBs are not offering flexible working arrangements to their staff. One in ten even said they weren't aware of the new flexible working rules which came into force on 30th June.
While the new legislation doesn’t automatically entitle employees the right to work flexibly, this lack of awareness and preparation has the potential to lead to significant friction between under-prepared employers and staff who want more control over where and when they work.
As Rob Davis from Sage rightly points out, flexible working can create huge benefits for SMBs too. With this in mind, here are some tips on how you can to implement an efficient, flexible working policy so you can reap the benefits it brings.
Gain control of the remote
One of Citrix’s customers that has a proven success in inspiring employees to deliver results whilst working flexibly is Conversion Rate Experts (CRE) - a UK based SMB that applies a scientific methodology to optimise the profitability of online businesses. To manage projects as effectively as possible, CRE believe that it is crucial to define processes for keeping in contact and set clear objectives and productivity goals to help remote workers stay on track.
Simple actions like sharing agendas in advance of team calls and sending clear actions with deadlines following them can make a real difference. Take note of what you don’t hear as well as what you do – if a flexible worker is communicating less, it’s worth touching base to check if they’re OK with workloads and whether the method you are using to communicate is useful to their day-to-day work.
Build trust with more face time
Citrix research showed that almost a quarter of SMBs said that trust was a factor in stopping them from adopting a more flexible approach. But it needn’t be this way - building trust amongst your team is a great way to empower them and develop stronger team spirit.
Avoid remote workers taking an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude by building in more face to face communication with video conferencing software such as GoToMeeting which lets users hold unlimited online meetings, for up to 25 people at once.
CRE co-founder Ben Jesson said: “We don’t ask people to fill in timesheets because it’s a waste of their time and we’re more interested in seeing results. Productivity tools such as GoToMeeting tie directly into this more flexible structure and ethos, making them a real enabler for efficient working.”
If you’re on a budget then GoToMeeting Free is great place to start - it’s a no-cost, no-download, no-sign-up solution for video conferencing with up to three people using Chrome or Firefox. Citrix recently updated it with screen sharing options so anyone on a call can present slides or chat through a document.
Add the personal touch
With less team interaction, workers may feel more isolated, so it’s important to ensure that you celebrate their successes and let them know exactly how their work has impacted the team.
Make sure each personal interaction counts – whether you’re using video conferencing, making a phone call or catching up with them in the office, personal interaction offers a real opportunity to inspire them by showing your belief in them and passion for the project.
Remote working isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and the key is to manage it wisely, making it work for the whole team. If you can master this, you can develop a highly agile business with increased productivity and lower costs.