Before the pandemic, in 2019, Forbes called flexible working “the way of the future”. A little over a year later, that statement has proved to be shockingly accurate. In 2020, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible working hours and remote working are no longer experiments, but the reality for the millions of employees around the globe.
Facebook, Google, PayPal and TCS have already made remote working and flexible working a permanent part of their routine. As a small business or start-up, you may be thinking: “but how can I?”
That’s where we come in. We are here to tell you that remote working is very much possible even as an SME. With the COVID-19 pandemic unlikely to end anytime soon, here’s how to make flexible working, work for you.
Understanding Flexible Working Hours
Before we dive into that, however, you should know the difference between the three terms.
- Flexible Working: It is a working routine outside of the normal 9-5 hours. Employees work at times, and days convenient to them and set their own schedules.
- Remote Working: This refers to working from any place that is not the office. Employees can remotely work from a coffee shop or even another country.
- Work from Home: As the name suggests, this is the act of working from your own home. It is a type of remote working but based in a single location.
Remote work is known to have a positive effect on employees, and company productivity. Time management tool RescueTime found that “Remote workers are 20% more likely to say they complete all their daily tasks every or most days.” it also noted that “People who work from home are 17% more likely to leave work ‘feeling accomplished about what they set out to do’.”
Armed with that data, it is clear – flexible working is indeed a viable option. If you are to retain your edge when it comes to hiring, it is important you keep flexible working at the centre. Here are a few ideas for you to try.
Rethink the Home Office
If your employees are going to be working from home, they need to rethink their workspace. A desk and chair will just not cut it. A home office needs to be isolated, and ideally away from any home distractions.
If possible, offer to fund purchases for ergonomic furniture for your employees. Also, issue clear guidelines on maintaining the home office. Make sure your employees have all the gear they need for their role, as well as consistent access to the internet and electricity.
Assess Working Conditions
Flexible working only works if your employees are mentally and physically fit. Ensure that they have enough time to exercise and switch off. Also, check-in and see if the situation at home is conducive to working. If it isn’t, offer to counsel and help so that employees can learn to adapt.
The same goes for employees who have to visit clients or suppliers. Ensure that they have PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and that they are not putting themselves at too much risk. Ask them to fill in risk analysis surveys, so you can make more informed choices about the places they visit.
Flexible Team Management
A big part of flexible working is different work timings. If each employee is on his/her own schedule, it’s vital you find ways to stay connected. As a CEO or management, that means trying to restructure your organization for the remote working era. Smaller teams are often more efficient, as Forbes noted.
Make communication simpler by scheduling weekly recurring meeting timings, that are non-negotiable. That way, you will have everyone on board at least once a week for a catch-up and review.
Let Employees Plan Their Schedules
Flexible working does mean setting your own schedules. So, give your employees the leeway they need to fix the timings that work for them. Of course, make sure they account for the non-negotiable meeting timings. Otherwise, they should be free to work when they want.
Use schedulers or task managers to provide deadlines and engage in regular discussions to ensure the deadlines are achievable. Everest Group CEO Peter Bendor-Samuel said “A team-based approach is a bottom-up approach. It gives a company the ability to make astounding improvements of 100% or more in productivity over a relatively short time.”
Create a Holistic Employee Healthcare Plan
Gym memberships are only ‘plaster’ solutions. For flexible working, employees need the best employee wellness programs possible. Ensure that your team has a decent work-life balance.
Also, rethink your existing group health insurance plan. If you want to provide all-around care, you need an employee healthcare plan that covers all aspects of care like teleconsultations and online medicine orders. Ensure that the benefits are tailored for each employee and their risk exposure. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.
Flexible working as an SME or startup does not have to be a challenge. Just follow these tips and you’ll be just as, if not more, productive than you were when in office.
A key part of making flexible working work is having a healthcare plan that fits your budget, and employee’s requirements. Onsurity provides affordable employee healthcare plans like that.
Our plans built especially for SMEs and start-ups. Our unique plans merge employee healthcare benefits like doctor teleconsultations and discounted medicine ordering with group health insurance for startups and MSMEs.
Give your team the healthcare they deserve with Onsurity. It’s the best employee healthcare plan for the flexible working era.