Communication is Key for Flextime Programs
October 24, 2013
By Mae Kowalke
, TMCnet Contributor
The nature of work is changing, as we mentioned in a recent article. The 9-to-5 job is out, and in its place are longer hours or a flexible schedule that finds employees in the office in the morning, picking up the kids after school and buying the milk, then returning to more work in the evening.
This “new normal” can wear out employees and create a work-life balance that is, well, not so balanced. One solution that businesses are increasingly embracing to deal with this trend is flextime.
Flextime enables a more balanced approach because it empowers workers to more seamlessly blend work and home life. This is good because it keeps employees more sane, and because top talent is more likely to stay with a company that provides a flexible work schedule.
The trouble is that even the best employees can slide a little when unchained from the office and able to set their own schedule. Just as work can bully home life, so too can home life sometimes derail the employee who is not in the office and being monitored.
More often than not, this work slippage is not the result of an employee who is trying to get away with less work. The more usual culprit is a lack of focus due to inadequate external accountability—and isolation from working alone instead of in a group setting at the office.
Communication is the key to solving this issue. Instead of flextime being an invitation to work off the grid and outside the office, employers need to make flextime when workers are getting things done in the virtual office.
This means removing the isolation and the lack of accountability by ensuring that business communication functions as normal and there is regular contact between the remote worker and those in the office.
There are two aspects to this: An expectation of regular communication, and the right tools in place to make it possible.
Employees who are outside of the office but still working need to be plugged back into the work environment, and this starts with the expectation of communication. There should not be large periods of darkness when the employee is out of contact. Instead, employers should build in regular times in the day to interact with the remote employee, including phone time.
Having the right tools in place to enable this communication and ensure that the worker is well integrated in the office even when out of the office also is important.
This means having an office telephone system that travels with the employee, such as a voice-over-IP (VoIP) enabled business line, as well as fax-over-IP (FoIP) capabilities. With IP-based communications, no office line call goes missed, and no fax goes missing or waiting. The employee, even when out of the office, is still in the office and well integrated.
There are plenty of good business VoIP solutions, and one service to check out for FoIP capabilities is the FaxBack fax ATA solution offered by AudioCodes (News - Alert).
Most workers are not trying to cheat the company they are working for, but it is true that flextime can lessen productivity if there is not good communication with employees no matter their location.
With good policies and the right technology, this does not need to be a problem.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson