If your office is anything like ours, then the parking lot may be a little emptier these days. Everyone is squeezing in that last bit of summer before school starts, or just attending more offsite meetings and events as we prep for the busy fall season. So it seemed like a good time to pull these tips for flexible working out of the archives. And we also felt it was critical for everyone to get a second chance to appreciate the above image in all its glory. You’re welcome.
Looking for ways to be more flexible in your workplace? Here are some of the things we’ve learned:
- Communication is key. When people are working from different offices, or even different time zones, it’s more important than ever to keep everyone in the loop. I think the CC line of our emails has gotten more work in the past three weeks than it did all last year. Sure, a more full inbox is a small annoyance, but when it’s not possible to have a face-to-face with your coworkers or boss every day, it’s important to ensure everyone has the information they need to keep things moving forward.
- Make the work work for you. And by that we mean, make the workflow easier by putting processes in place that make it easier to manage. Whether that’s project management software or a messaging app like Slack, staying engaged with those processes is critical to making sure everything stays on track, even when everyone’s moving in different directions.
- Be on when necessary. We all know how things tend to pop up out of nowhere at the office during the course of a day. That doesn’t stop when half your team is out, but how do you manage it when you can’t bounce ideas off each other in person? It’s helpful to establish a system that everyone can stick to – a text is for urgent or quick responses, an email gives you more time to mull things over, and so on. As long as everyone understands what’s expected from them with each form of communication, business can proceed as usual. Which brings me to…
- Set expectations. Not to toot our own horn, but I think this is something we do very well. When each team member is operating on a different schedule, it’s inevitable that you’ll have some people sticking to an 8-5, some people working til midnight, and some people working on weekends. It’s just what has to happen to get everything accomplished. But that doesn’t mean that when one person works at midnight, everyone needs to, because we hope the night owl is getting some well-deserved rest when others are up and running at the office in the morning. It’s important when you’re working on your own time to determine when coworkers need to work on their time – now or later. It’s also important to let clients know when key people are available, or direct them to another coworker if someone is out of pocket for a bit. It’s the respectful thing to do. Speaking of…
- Respect balance and be patient. The last, and maybe the most important thing we’ve learned. Whether someone is out of commission for a day dealing with a personal issue, or it’s several weeks of balancing different schedules, it takes some getting used to and there are bound to be things that fall through the cracks. Be patient, because everyone is balancing work and life, even those who are still keeping the 8-5 routine.