Expect the workplace trend toward more flexible work situations to become standard at many companies in 2017. The movement, which includes a growing remote workforce, job sharing and other flexible scheduling arrangements, provides employees with new opportunities for improving their work-life balance, traveling and pursuing side gigs while still growing fulfilling careers. If you are interested in flexible work environments, look for organizations with the following programs.
Companies with formal flexibility policies make it easy for workers to move into flexible work arrangements. These policies describe what type of flexible work assignments are allowed and spell out any relevant rules, minimizing the need for individual employees to negotiate flexible working situations. With built-in protocol for security issues, chain of command and which tasks can be done remotely, flexibility policies increase the likelihood of a successful flexible work situation to benefit both the company and the employee.
A Flexible-Work Culture
If you want the option of a flexible work assignment, feel out the company culture. How many people currently have this type of arrangement? Do people talk about videoconferencing and flexible hours, or does it seem like everyone is supposed to be on-site during traditional business hours? Expect to see a move in company culture towards more virtual communication and fewer people sitting at desks in the office, with more departments relying on virtual applications for collaboration.
Modern managers need to know how to keep virtual workers motivated and how to create productive collaboration and communication models when everyone isn't at the same location or working the same hours. In 2017, more companies will be adding management training programs to help managers learn to direct teams that include flexible work situations. Better-trained managers lead to more successful programs. When there are more successful programs, companies feel confident creating new flexibility options.
Open Time Off
Look for flexible work arrangements that move beyond standard remote work and job sharing programs. More companies are offering their employees open time off or vacation programs. These types of programs trust the workers themselves to know how much time they can take off and still get their work done. They also encourage vacations, travel and time at home that include work and staying connected to the office. If an employee wants to travel for a month in Europe, for example, he can schedule assignments that are suitable for remote work during this period. If a parent needs a day off to take care of a child, work can similarly be done at home or delayed depending on the needs of both the worker and the company.
The workplace trend toward integrating flexible work opportunities will continue to grow in 2017. Anticipate workplace changes that include formal flexible work policies, company culture that welcomes flexible scheduling and specialized management training that focuses on managing remote workers.
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