4th March 2016
Managing a Flexi Work Force
Modern technology has enabled us to a level where it is no longer necessary to work from conventional offices. It’s a new reality for the corporate leaders. Making the shift to a flexi job based work forcewill not only reduces costs butwill also increase profitability due to retention of talent and a higher level of commitment from the employees. Several studies have indicated that it is the competent workers who choose flexi jobs. The incompetent actually get exposed as flexi jobs would not allowhiding behind large teams.
With a robust process oriented system, it’s possible today to have workers working on a 100% virtual basis. Flexi job work force would however need a different way of management and evaluation. Some preparation will have to be done by the leadership teams before going in for a large scale flexi job policy. Let’s have a look at the key areas of focus for managing a flexi work force:
Effective communication systems
Managers would need to be good communicators. They would need to be comfortable with modern tools of communication and will have to be highly responsive to the work force. Media tools like LinkedIn, Google Groups and Skype would be needed to be used in a very proactive manner. Processes will have to be set to ensure online collaboration and responsiveness. This will in effect savea lot of time. Our experience is that a lot of time is wasted in formal meetings in an office setting. If several team members need to talk on common work areas then they would need some training on the usage of collaborativetools thatare available in plenty.
Clear goal setting
Goals are milestones with a dead line so these must be defined in specific terms. It will be critical to explain the goalsalong with clear directions on the time lines and the deliverables. In case of a confusion or query, the virtually located team members should be able to access the leaders for help. In cases where collective output is required, it will be necessary to have a web based or portal bases interface so that all can look at the work in process and progress of the team as a whole. Even in offline work environments clear job description and clarity on goals is critical. For online interfaces it becomes even more important.
Focus on results
Expected outcome must be explained to all the team members and the focus of leaders should be on measurable results. Instead of leaning on the boss or another competent colleague a flexi job worker will have to focus on his own output. The employees would need to understand that their responsibility for output will actually increase. In a systems based virtual environment, it will be difficult for anyone to distract the team by intervening into the work processes due to web based transparency. This will encourage better team work and will enhance productivity in addition to making the team members more work and result focused. A mind set change among the managers and their teams would be needed but the benefits will far exceed the extra efforts to be made initially.
Processes will be the back bone
Robust processes for documentation will be necessary for recurringwork to ensure a higher level of competence with minimum chances of error. This will involve creation of templates which can be used to save a lot of time and effort. This will reduce the load on the managers & there will lesser chances of error with fixed templates for all the jobs that need to be done repeatedly.
Build accountability in the system
Flexi job policy should have clearly documented notes on expectations and the chain of command so that there is very little room left for confusion. Protocols and work priority must be linked to the overall business objectives to ensure a sharp focus on the deliverables. Remotely located flexi job work force will also need continuous reaching out by the leaders to ensure that they are in sync with the overall objectives in a dynamic business environment.
Put it in writing
To succeed with a flexi job policy the what, why and how of the policy must be put in writing and also explained at the nuts and bolts level to the supervisory teams. Detailing of each component of the flexi job policy such as compressed workweek, tele work days & timing or shift based time slots with the process of evaluation is very important. Employees should have access to template based forms for requesting the kind of flexi job option they wish to apply for along with the details for compensation, reporting system and evaluation of output.
Founder of Fortune Architect
Managing Director- Asia Pacific & EMEA Markets with Saviour US INC
Respected HR Leader
CHRO, LANCO INFRATECH LIMITED
Executive Director-HR & Admin, Experion Developers
Managing Director, UK Fostering, Founder, UKINDO International & CharityWorld.com
Promoter & Director, Rockland Hospitals Network, Delhi
Vice President & HR Head- India/SA at IBM HR Consultant
Founder and a principal consultant with People Talent International
Mr Chauhan has held leadership roles in HR at leading multinational companies
COO & Co-founder of Round Ark Limited, Gurgaon
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