Not all overtime is time well spent...

Not all overtime is time well spent...

Working from home bod
Traditionally, burning the midnight oil at the office, coming in early and working through your lunch break were seen by both managers and other employees as a sign of dedication and a member of staff determined to go the extra mile. In many workplaces this culture is still in place.

But is this assumption correct?

We all know that at times it is necessary to spend an extra few hours at your desk – if you have a big project to complete, a tight deadline, or a mistake that needs to be corrected ASAP – there are times when putting in extra office hours are paramount. However, in the modern workplace, the assumption that more time at the office means a better worker is becoming increasingly outdated.

Flexi-time and working from home were previously considered as perks, but with the modern workplace changing, and much of what we do in the office increasingly achievable online wherever you are, flexi-time and working from home could really benefit your organisation and lead to a more loyal and productive workforce. It can also help with talent identification and retention.

But how do you decide if working from home is right for your organisation, and how do you put an effective policy in place if you decide to go for it? As with any good performance management process, thorough planning and effective communication are the keys to success.

Here are a few things to remember when considering a flexible workplace.

Firstly, flexible working is obviously not right for all employees. Some roles simply require you to be in the office, so make clear that telecommuting is not available to everyone, however much they may like the idea.

You also need to put in place a clear plan as to how you will log the hours worked, and whether you will pay salaries based on the jobs completed, or the time worked. Again, this is something that goal setting enables, as progress can be logged and reported on at any time.

Think about whether telecommuting requires those working from home to make themselves available during normal office hours, or if they can decide what hours they work to get the job completed to deadline.

By logging individual goals and targets that can be reported on by each staff member, and using the ability to link goals and share progress with whole departments, managers will be able to keep track of progress and productivity in their organisation – whether the employee is in the office or not.

This kind of flexibility gives you the ability to assess staff on productivity and merit rather than hours spent at their desk. Not only will this make staff feel they are working in an honest and fair workplace (which makes them much more likely to be loyal, productive employees) but it gives you as an employer a much more accurate picture of what is going on in your organisation.

Set clear guidelines concerning how you will communicate with employees who are working outside the office. If you would like them to report on what progress they have made each day, then make that apparent from the start. It is also important that working from home does not break down communication – employee relationships are important, and some face-to-face time with other workers is necessary to keep relationships functioning well. Telecommuting does not need to be full-time. It may be helpful to keep up a work routine, for example a specific day a week that staff come into the office.

If you have thought about flexible working, and believe it may be something that could improve performance, then go for it! Like anything new, it can be a daunting prospect, but don’t forget, if you try it and it doesn’t work out, you can always change back. The nature of online working and goal setting is flexibility and the ability to change things quickly and easily. It means you can respond to the needs of both your employees and organisation in a timely manner.

The great thing about managing performance online is that you can make informed decisions about who is working well. There is no need to guess who your best employees are by assuming that all time spent at their desk is time well spent.

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