Developing a Culture of Flexibility

By Ericka Chickowski Print this article Print

A recent academic study shows that in-office coworkers of telecommuters are less satisfied as the number of teleworkers within an organization increases. In response, Baseline has talked to the experts and gathered a strategy for better uniting remote and in-office workers together.

 Developing a Culture of Flexibility The success of telework within an organization is largely dependent on the commitment from management to make it work. “Finding a champion somewhere up there in senior manger is going to b e the most beneficial thing that you can do in order to get the line supervisors accept it because if managers and line supervisors don't accept it , it will not happen,” Stanley said. “They will break it maybe not intentionally, but they will break it if they don't see the value of it.”

One of the most effective way executives can exhibit this commitment is leading through example, Stanley said. She points to successful executives such as Accenture CEO Bill Green, who conducts much of his business from his home office. This example has helped establish a culture making it possible for most of the company’s employees to also telework.

Establishing a flexible work environment also means looking for alternative arrangements when teleworking won’t work for a specific employee or job function. After all, telework isn’t the only way to offer employees flexibility.

“Not everyone can telecommute, but there are a whole lot of things in terms of flexibility that you can do to make people happy,” Stanley said. “The more flexibility you offer your organization, the more you are paid back through productivity, less absenteeism, less turnover and a greater loyalty to the organization.”

These alternative forms of flexibility include flextime, compressed workweeks, job sharing, and shift flexibility. Fostering a flexible work environment also depends on the results-oriented management model that Stanley emphasized earlier. An organization that avails itself to this model can afford to give not only more options for work scheduling and location, but also how the work is done.

Even simply offering a greater amount of job function autonomy is a another great way to minimize grumbling from those workers who are not able to telecommute.

“Managers may consider granting greater job autonomy to those individuals who  remain in the office so that they may not be as adversely impacted by the absence of teleworkers,” Golden said.

“In other words they may grant them greater discretion in how they conduct their work activities, the interdependence of their tasks with others in the office, and perhaps even their latitude in how they schedule activities so they are not restricted or don't experience additional restrictions as a consequence of having a larger proportion of those in the office who telework,” said Golden.

This article was originally published on 2008-02-07
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