Operationalizing Flexible Work Arrangements

The Client:

Our client, a service organisation, employs a large number of customer support staff.

The Challenge:

Our client introduced flexible work arrangements to stem the resignation of professional women. Despite a communication blitz, the take-up rate was very low. This puzzled our clients and we were asked to strengthen the implementation of flexible work arrangements.

The Solution:

Our premise:

Introduction of flexible work arrangements requires much more than a communications blitz. It needs to be supported by:

  • clear policies on performance criteria.
  • processes to assess readiness for flexible work arrangements.
  • right skills and mind-set amongst managers and employees.
  • visible support from top management.

What we did:

Tier 1: Determining what was hindering implementation

  • Designed a unique diagnostic method called Design Focus groups to capture rational and emotional concerns that were holding back implementation of flexible work arrangements
  • Through the diagnostics, we identified the following key barriers:
    • Employees were concerned about the criteria for performance assessment -will it be ‘face time’ or ‘deliverables’.
    • Supervisors were concerned about challenges relating to work planning & organisation, supervision of remote employees and a potential drop in productivity.

Tier 2: Redesigning jobs, policies and processes

  • Helped the client articulate their policy on performance.
  • Designed a checklist for employees and supervisors to assess readiness and amenability to flexible work arrangements.
  • Redesigned jobs and processes to operationalize flexible work arrangements while retaining focus on productivity.

Tier 3: Building skills and mind-set

  • Conducted workshops for managers to:
    • strengthen their skills in work organisation, planning and managing performance and
    • facilitate conversations change mind-set.
  • Conducted workshops for employees to help them grasp what it takes to work effectively with flexible work arrangements. This included skill building and confidence boosting.

The Result:

Following our intervention, the client saw an increased uptake of flexible work arrangements amongst women employees and a reduction in turnover. More importantly, managers gained comfort with the new way of working and openly advocated flexible arrangements within their teams.