The workplace is constantly changing, and it has never been more important for businesses to move with the times to remain competitive. There are several ‘classic’ business practices that are viewed as outdated by the modern workforce. We have listed some of these below and provided some suggestions on how to achieve a more flexible and productive environment in your office.
Enforcing a strict 9-5 work schedule for your employees can be detrimental to your business and mean you miss out on attracting top talent. These days, a huge percentage of employees only seek jobs that offer ‘flexitime’ due to conflicting personal appointments or simply as a lifestyle choice.
Employers that only operate in strict business hours are unattractive to potential employees that need to fit other commitments around their work day such as picking up children from school. These individuals are no less dedicated to their jobs than those who are willing to work 9-5 and are often more willing to work longer hours in the periods they are out of the office. If you offer flexitime, you can expect a productivity increase and a decrease in absenteeism.
There are two main ways to offer a flexible working schedule in your business. The first is to set core working hours Monday – Friday (typically 10:00am – 04:00pm) and specify employees must be in the office during these times but can choose the hours they work around these to make up a full work week. The second way is by offering a full ‘flexi-schedule’. Employers set the number of hours to be completed in a week, say 40, and then leave employees to delegate their own workload around these hours. Whichever method works best depends on the nature of your business and work ethic of employees, but If you plan on introducing a full flexi-schedule it is advisable to regularly remind employees that although the hours may be fully flexible, deadlines are not.
A Strict Hierarchy
A business pyramid hierarchy is a dated system that was originally adapted from ranking within the military. It is a basic structure that means employees start at the lowest level (the base of the pyramid) and can only be promoted dependant on experience and sometimes on length of service. Those at the bottom of the pyramid have little responsibility and are often expected to simply follow instructions while those at the top are completely autonomous and make decisions that affect everyone within an organisation.
The problem with this traditional work structure is it means younger, less experienced employees with fantastic ideas can be ignored and pigeonholed onto a specific career progression path while their talents may be utilised better elsewhere. Sharing the decision making creates a mentality of unity and means everyone works together to achieve wider objectives.
If you want to change the rigid structure in your workplace but are not sure how to achieve this, the best way is to set clear boundaries of where employees can make decisions, and create an environment where everyone feels secure enough to share their ideas on a regular basis. For example, this could be ensuring the “voice” of employees and customers are better represented on company boards, or setting aside a portion of each week to brainstorm with employees. It is important that larger businesses follow suit.
Transparent communication is the cornerstone of most successful businesses. It is also important to ensure teams do not work in silos and work collaboratively with one another. By encouraging different teams within an organisation to regularly talk to one another, employees are also presented with a wider pool of career progression opportunities, and this can significantly increase retention rates.
The Office as a Strict Work Space
Viewing the office as only a place to work and the only place to work is old fashioned. Many CEO’s will tell you that some of their team’s best ideas happened during a post-work beer. It is important to create a social company culture as this encourages employees to forge strong relationships with their colleagues and promotes better communication.
Similarly, being sat at a desk should not be viewed as the only place where employees can work productively. Many successful companies encourage ‘hot desking’ which is where employees have no fixed seat and are encouraged to move around daily to find the best space to fit their work needs. Hot-desking means employees are more likely to speak to different people daily and pool ideas; it also benefits an employer as it means a lower cost on office space. For this to work you have to ensure that there are enough desks available, as it can lead to insecurity among employees who may not want to work from home.
Allowing employees to work from home can be symbiotic for both the employee and employer. For the employee – they’ll waste less time during the morning commute and allow them to be more productive. For the employer, it doesn’t limit you to hiring the best professionals in a single area or even a single country.
Employee Performance Reviews
When you are in a managerial position, it can be tempting to regularly check up on your employees to ensure they are working in a way that is beneficial and conducive to the company. However, this can prove counterproductive to an individual’s work ethic.
If you conduct annual performance reviews on which big decisions such as promotions and pay-rises are based, employees can get extremely nervous and under-perform on the day of the review. Similarly, it can be hard for a person to remember all the fantastic achievements they have accomplished throughout the year in single hourly session.
On the other hand, if you hover over employees and check in with them several times a week, this is known as micro-managing and is a sure-fire way to create resentment throughout your workforce. Good employees want to know that they are trusted to get on with their work without being monitored too closely.
The best way to observe your employees is to remove the scheduled performance reviews to do it subtly and organically, or through regular and informal catch-ups. If you notice they are making mistakes, it is best to point this out directly after the incident and offer constructive advice on how to improve. Similarly, if an employee’s work is outstanding, recognising this immediately will create a happier, more fast paced work environment.