Building a culture of trust: the key to flexible working

Businesses of all sizes benefit from flexible working- and increasingly for start-ups – are being ‘born agile’, with teams working across cities, countries and even continents.


But despite the proven advantages of flexi-work for small and giant companies alike, many business owners are unclear how to make it work in practice. It’s not just a matter of announcing the end of fixed hours at fixed locations, or telling your employees to work from home instead of at the office.


Here are a few practical tips to make flexible working a success. Most of them relate to one word: trust. And the great thing for start-ups is that it’s something you can follow from the outset. You don’t have to change people’s contracts or chip away at ingrained habits.


1. Who’s doing what, when?


In a global survey Regus conducted about remote working, 51% of Australian respondents said managers worry about how staff use their time.


Clear goal-setting is the answer. It helps managers gauge the output of staff even if they’re working elsewhere, and it helps staff demonstrate their achievements.


2. It’s good to talk


If you have a team working at different times or locations, communication is essential. Schedule regular conference calls, meetings, video conferences and social events whenever possible.


Don’t let a situation develop where employees who work at the same place as the boss receive news faster than those working from elsewhere. Those being left out of the loop will rapidly become resentful, and that’s half of your culture of trust gone down the drain.


3. Use the right tools


Around 38% of businesses in Australia use specific reporting and monitoring tools to facilitate remote management. But tools should be used to support workers, not just police them.


Explore the use of cloud-based applications so that staff can do their jobs anywhere.


And think out of the box when it comes to what tools you use. Teleworking is often criticised on the grounds that working at home is distracting and deprives people of professional facilities – so offer access to professional workspaces, such as business lounges, or co-working spaces.


4. Finally, don’t leave things to chance


Successful flexible working requires everyone to understand the rules. For example: when flexible/remote workers are expected to be available by phone/email, how and when they should report to managers and how ‘success’ or ‘failure’ is defined and measured.


Aspects like these should be covered in contracts and performance reviews. It all comes back to communication and goal-setting.


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