The working world has had a serious overhaul in the past couple of years, with standard working hours and patterns quickly becoming a thing of the past. These days flexible hours, remote working and a part-time week are not only more commonplace but are actually a deal breaker for many employees. In the creative sector, it is no longer just about being freelance or perm and many businesses now strive for a divine combination of the two. This can make it very difficult to keep your whole team engaged and working as one.
There could be a lot of reasons for an employee to request a flexible working pattern. For example, if they are a parent they may need to arrange their hours around childcare commitments. It’s also quite common in the creative space for employees to have side projects or artistic interests outside of work. If they wish to work part time in order to pursue a self-initiated project or expand on a skill then consider it. You could end up with an employee who is not only happier but also more creatively accomplished, which is good news for your business.
The question you need to ask is not ‘should’ you offer flexible working but ‘how’ you offer it. There are many elements you need to consider, and each is role specific. Is the role heavily project based? If so, it may be that’s it’s possible to do that project remotely. If, however, the project is a team effort that requires input from multiple stakeholders, a day in the office once a week might be necessary. What technology is needed to do the role? Is this tech that can be accessed offsite? If not, you may need to insist your employee is office based but perhaps look at using flexible hours to fit in with their desired schedule. Not only should these factors be considered on a role by role basis, you also need to think about how it will affect the wider team or business. It’s important to have the right alignment of people and skills within your team and ensure that everyone gets the face time they need in order to do their jobs well.
The question you need to ask is not ‘should’ you offer flexible working but ‘how’ you offer it.
Managing a team where each individual is working different hours and days, or even working from different locations can be a challenge. However, there are many things you can do to make sure everyone feels valued, involved and part of the team.
Make sure you have regular meetings with the whole team. Set a dedicated time each week where everyone can get together to discuss current projects, where they might need help or guidance and to discuss any issues. The meeting doesn’t need to take up a lot of time and it is a great way to make the whole team feel engaged in each other’s work. It will also create a team dynamic and ensure that no members feel isolated or forgotten about. If you have employees working remotely, make sure they can dial into the meeting. If possible, set up a video call for the meeting using Skype, Hangouts or Facetime. Having an in person meeting is really important for the feeling of inclusion, if that isn’t possible then a video call is the next best thing. With most platforms you also have the option to screen share, so you can view designs and projects that each team member is working on and provide feedback.
Get your team using a project management tool such as Trello or Basecamp. These systems are a great way to encourage collaboration and they make it really easy for everyone to see which stage a project is at. This is especially important for teams who have members working part time as all information can be accessed by anyone at any time. So if something urgent comes up on a day that your project lead is out of the office, it should be easy to pick up and resolve.
If you have a team that incorporates freelance workers, then you could consider applying some Agile principles to your workflow. Agile working can be very beneficial in keeping all team members aligned and working as one. Try working in sprints and having quick daily standups to discuss what was worked on the day before and what will be worked on that day. This is a great way to flag issues, streamline processes and get a good idea of what each person is doing. Each team member is assigned work that is tracked and reviewed, meaning that everyone is connected for each project.
Make your team feel like a family! It might sound cliched but the more your team get along with each other on a personal level, the happier and more engaged they will be at work.
Make your team feel like a family! It might sound cliched but the more your team get along with each other on a personal level, the happier and more engaged they will be at work. Encourage them to mix with their colleagues and organise work socials to help with team bonding. If you have team members who only work mornings, arrange a breakfast. If they can’t go for a drink after work, go out for a team lunch. Try organising a day out for the whole team, a summer social or Christmas party. Finding time for social activities will not only make your team feel valued but will also encourage them to work better together.
Flexible working is all about compromise. It shouldn’t necessarily be something that is expected of you to offer, but you might find that in doing so you are rewarded with committed, happy employees who have real loyalty for your business. It should always be dealt with on a role specific basis, and you must ensure there is a level of trust present between you and your employee. For remote working, you may feel nervous to trust a team member to work conscientiously without supervision but you should then question your decision to hire them in the first place. With these new working patterns becoming the norm for so many organisations, if you want the best people working for your business then now is the time to start embracing it.
If you would like to learn more about managing new working patterns then contact us at vitamintalent.co.uk