Are Flexible Work Policies Coming to IT?

Flexible Work Policies

With new remote technologies and shifting expectations, flexible working has become much more realistic over the past couple of years. But, for the most part, IT has remained unaffected.

However, that could be changing in 2017.

Preparing for Flexible Work Policies

From an IT employer’s perspective, few things are more important than keeping employees happy. Satisfied workers are much more productive and engaged, which obviously means you’re able to generate a higher return on your human capital. And when you study trends among those inside and outside of the IT industry, it’s clear that flexible work policies are something many desire.

If you’re unsure of what this looks like in your organization, it’s time to brush up on some of the new trends that are sweeping the nation. What you’ll discover is that flexible work policies benefit the employer as much as the employee.

Most organizations assume that remote working is the only viable flexible working policy out there, but this is far from the truth. In fact, remote working isn’t always practical for IT workers. Flexible scheduling – in the form of setting your own hours – is a much better option.

With flexible scheduling, you essentially let employees set their own hours (within guidelines) – as long as they provide the prescribed 40 hours per week that are stipulated in their contract. So, instead of working a 9-to-5 schedule, some employees may work a 7-to-3 or 10-to-6 schedule.

Then there’s 4-10 scheduling, which is where employees work four 10-hour days (as opposed to five 8-hour days) and get three days off per week.

“I love the arrangement of the four-day workweek,” says Teresa Allen, a customer service representative for American Fidelity Assurance Co. in Oklahoma City. She arrives to the office as early as 6:30 in the morning. “I enjoy having Wednesdays off and can focus on spending time with family and maintaining a home. It helps me with balancing stresses of being a family provider and full-time employee.”

However, establishing some sort of flexible work policy in your IT organization isn’t a solution for everything. In addition to creating a policy that sounds good on the surface, you need to set your employees up for success.

“Flex-time won’t enable productivity if the company does not provide the tools and the worker does not bring the discipline to make it so. A worker must have discipline to work during those times they are unsupervised,” says Elena Sabourova of Dialpad. “Providing them the opportunity does not ensure their success. Expectations must be set and mutually agreed upon.”

It’s best to roll out a flexible work policy in stages. Start by explaining the policy to employees. During this time, openly accept questions and provide clear answers on what you expect from employees. Then roll out a temporary policy in which you openly reserve the right to make tweaks after a given period of time. From here, you can gradually make things more permanent and slowly give employees more responsibility.

Putting it All Together

Dan Schawbel, research director at Future Workplace, calls workplace flexibility the “linchpin to employee happiness.” He believes that in 2017 and beyond, businesses can no longer get away with only offering employees the standard 9-to-5 office-based work schedule. It’s simply too rigid and archaic. And he’s right!

Like it or not, flexible work policies are coming to IT. It’s your job to recognize this evolving trend and prepare your business for the inevitable. It’s much better to proactively engage flexible work policies than it is to sit back and wait.

Are you ready to initiate movement in this new direction?

Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.