Flexible work models: 3 ways to simplify yours


The sudden shift to remote work so many of us experienced in early 2020 didn’t give business leaders – me included – much time to map out a thoughtful out-of-office setup for our teams. To put it bluntly, we needed to reinvent our entire game plan in less time than I would normally allot to introducing a new brand of office chair.

But oh, how we’ve grown. In fact, the challenges we’ve faced over the past two years have led to a better understanding of what working flexibly really means – how to lead a hybrid workforce, and how to simplify our hybrid work model.

3 hybrid and remote work model tips 

As more of us embrace flexible work, a few things have become abundantly clear: we must be proactive about technology, we must model what flexible work looks like, and we must communicate like our future depends on it. So, what does this mean for you? Consider these strategies as you plan for what your future of work looks like.

1. Provide flexibility, collaboration, and the right technology

It’s clear that hybrid work is here to stay. New research by Kadence reveals that 62% of employees feel more trusted to do their job than before and 51% of employees are motivated to do a better job in remote work.

This is due, in part, to the flexibility that employees now enjoy. More than 6 of 10 respondents mentioned feeling less daily pressure to perform tasks because they are not being micromanaged by bosses and executives.

It’s imperative to the success of any company to provide tools and technologies that enable a positive experience for all employees. These can vary depending on your company’s needs, but they might include corporate knowledge bases, goal- and process-tracking software, and platforms to support both live and asynchronous communication and collaboration among teams.

“Set the right tone by balancing your own work hours and locations, highlighting how a flexible schedule allows you to engage more deeply in personal priorities (such as family, hobby, pets, and travel).”

Your technology must meet the new work-from-anywhere needs to keep employees engaged and ultimately drive the business forward. As companies increasingly shift to a hybrid work model, executives must also reassess how they evaluate software and technology, and even how work gets done. This means that companies must have the infrastructure to define success, measure progress, and identify areas for improvement.

Flexible work doesn’t mean that measuring progress and highlighting major accomplishments should be put on hold – quite the opposite. Understanding business growth and measuring progress can be a large motivator for your teams to feel ownership of their own fates and that they contribute to the bottom line.

2. Model behavior as a leader

For a flexible work model to be effective, leadership must embrace it and model what it looks and feels like to be a truly hybrid organization. The core tenet of hybrid is trust:  trust that employees will complete their work regardless of where or when they do it. If a leader chooses to work exclusively in the office and collaborate with others who choose to do the same, for example, they essentially remove the psychological safety net for their teams and instill fear that in-office work will more likely lead to new opportunities and career progression.

Be flexible. Live flexibly. Set the right tone by balancing your own work hours and locations, highlighting how a flexible schedule allows you to engage more deeply in personal priorities (such as family, hobby, pets, and travel), and always solve for the remote worker first in collaborative settings.

3. Document and communicate

As more employees are located outside the physical office, the traditional “watercooler” method of exchanging ideas and information will also transform. According to the 2021 Buffer State of Remote Work, 16% of remote workers cite “difficulties with collaboration and communication” as their biggest struggle with remote work. This information isolation can be damaging to your organization’s culture and its ability to work toward its goals.

Develop a documentation-based culture that generates sustainable assets for decisions, roadmaps, and priorities. Work "async" and go beyond bullets on slides – it is crucial that everyone provides written and/or recorded context for workers who are not in the same room or even time zone, or who don’t share the same native language. Share and reshare links to these assets across multiple channels to ensure that all your employees are informed and aligned.

Flexible work isn’t going away. In fact, all signs point to it being the new normal. Refining your remote or hybrid work models will go a long way toward ensuring your teams’ satisfaction and your business’ momentum now and into the future.

Now, back to contemplating office chair fabrics and ergonomics.

This article originally appeared on The Enterprisers Project on November 19, 2021