How to navigate the work/life balance trend

With many organizations trying to attract and retain young talent remote work is on the rise, in fact over the next 7 years millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforce (Catalyst.org 2017) with Gen Z hot on its heels.  Despite the allure of freelance or consulting roles the recent Deloitte Millennial Survey 2017, found that a permanent full-time role is more appealing given uncertain economic outlooks.  With our ever increasing ‘always on’ society, technology is enabling successful working arrangements outside of an employer’s office.   With flexible working linked to improved organizational performance, increased loyalty and engagement many employers have found this an ideal solution to attract and retain top talent.

At Lighthouse NINE we often find leaders are concerned about embracing this new trend of working due to these top 5 misconceptions:

1. Face Time is Equal to Productivity

This is a long-standing concern of many employers that face time = productivity.  However, The Wall Street Journal reported back in 2010 on a study that found telecommuters were able to cram 19 more hours of work into a week than traditional in office roles, in fact, Stanford University, 2014, reported a 13% productivity increase when workers are allowed flexible working arrangements.  Creating a culture of trust is the foundation for successful flexible working and is accelerated by measuring people on deliverables, not facetime which creates a culture of accountability.

2. Reduced Collaboration

Whilst its true that relationships are built faster and more deeply when people work in proximity, collaboration does not require co-location.  Creating the right environment and utilizing technology will allow your team to work effectively regardless of location.  Be intentional about sharing updates and ideas online, use video conferencing such as Zoom or Blue Jeans to connect face to face, create collaboration boards via Trello or Slack, the possibilities extend well beyond the office walls.

3. Lack of Policy

Many employers view flexibility as a perk to be managed individually by leaders in their respective areas.  This lack of overarching policy and centralized guidelines diminishes the strategic benefit that flexible working can provide.   Lack of parity, competing mindsets around productivity and collaboration can create conflict.  Senior Leaders & HR must create a shared vision about the benefit of flexibility, communicate it, measure it linked to strategic objectives to reap the measurable results.

4. Our Data Will Be Unsecured

Data is the new gold and security breaches are a real concern for many organizations, particularly with unsecured networks.  To establish a successful flexible working arrangement, work with your IT team to implement safe solutions such as cloud-based applications, virtual private networks (VPN) or two-factor authentication to secure your data.

5. Communication Will Suffer

Leaders often worry that communication will be diminished by remote working, progress will be hard to track and information may get lost in transit.  However, telecommunications allow colleagues to dive into the purpose of a conversation much quicker and a few simple rules can keep communications effective and on- track.  Create ways of working prior to any flexible arrangement to ensure that expectations are clear and tools outlined.  Communications should be adapted to best suit the way each person works. Schedule a regular touchpoint to update on progress and ensure key messages are shared.

The benefits to embracing this trend of working such as flexible start/finish times, ability to work remotely and new unpaid leaves, result in lower rates of absenteeism, increased productivity, greater employee satisfaction and retention, a more diverse and engaged workforce and increased participation from those on LTD.  A new way of working takes time to become the norm, but the benefits far outweigh the discomfort.

For more information on how Lighthouse Nine can help you to create an organization design and culture of trust that supports flexible working go to www.lighthouse9.ca.

Gemma Norman
Lighthouse Nine Group
One Eva Road, Suite 209 | Etobicoke, ON M9C 4Z5
Office: 416-607-6919
Direct: 905-920-9396
Gemma Norman on LinkedIn

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