The role of managers

Managers are critical enablers of workforce flexibility, serving as the bridge between policy and practice.

It is they who define the parameters and expectations for flexible work.

Even the most employee-oriented managers are likely to have concerns about managing and measuring employee performance outside of standard work hours.

Traditional performance management is grounded in compliance and process. As businesses mature, they should consider that individual effort and external factors create environments that help staff to thrive.

Check out the Guidance for Managers downloadable resource.

Managers should ask themselves a series of questions before accepting or rejecting flexible work arrangements. The questions below will help managers consider where they might channel their efforts to integrate flexible work into their teams, and the broader business.

Define the parameters around flexible work

  • Are managers keeping their employees and teams updated on the evolving context and what this means for how, when and where employees can work?
  • Have managers defined the parameters and expectations for flexible work?
  • Are your people clear on the way they need to work under flexible working arrangements?
  • Have you defined the outcomes and outputs required to enable a clear rhythm for flexible workers?

Employee engagement

  • Are employees motivated to support, and engage in new ways of working?
  • Are strategies in place to maintain the engagement of individuals with flexible work arrangements? For example –have you ensured that people who do work flexibly are included in team activities and continue to receive rewards, training and opportunities for promotion?
  • Are the actions of managers providing employees with positive role models for flexible working arrangements?

Engage in regular and constructive conversation

  • Are managers, teams, and individuals checking in to see if flexible working arrangements are effective for the individual, manager, and team?
  • Are managers and teams sharing information about the work they are doing and how they are progressing tasks and activities?
  • Have managers established regular conversations with individuals to discuss performance expectations in a constructive and ongoing manner? Not passive-aggressive emails or the annual performance review

Put the right systems in place

  • Do managers, teams, and employees have access to the systems, platforms, and technology they need to support them to work flexibly? Home based internet, smart-phones, project management software, and helpful computer programs such as Microsoft Teams and Google docs allow employees to maintain contact regardless of where they are located.
  • Are there effective channels for information sharing to enable the handover of work and communication across timeframes and locations?

Flexible work by design

  • Is there an even distribution of workload to ensure employees are not underutilised or over-worked?
  • Have you considered re-designing work to enable greater flexibility? When you break jobs down into component parts, it is likely you will find tasks that lend themselves to time and place flexibility.
  • Have managers considered team-based approaches rather than responsibility for projects resting with a single individual? Team-based approaches allow work to be completed without all members being present.

Capability and capacity

  • Do employees or individuals have the skills and capabilities to deliver outcomes via flexible arrangement? If you have an employee who you believe requires more structure and hands-on guidance, talk to them about a trial period, and consider adjusting accordingly.
  • Do employees and managers have the skills to utilise technology to maintain connection and coordinate actions?