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13 tips for leaders to build a productive and flexible work policy

Today’s professionals are increasingly expecting jobs to offer flexible workplaces. While many business leaders are seeking to provide more remote and hybrid-friendly workplace environments, it can be difficult to let go of how things have traditionally been done for years and even decades.

In particular, the potential impact on productivity is a significant concern for some leaders as they look to establish more flexible policies. To help, 13 Newsweek Expert Forum members each offer one tip for business leaders seeking to implement a flexible working schedule policy for the first time without impacting overall productivity.

1. Establish Concrete Guidelines

Flexible schedules help employees find the right balance between their professional and personal lives, but transitioning to this type of policy can be a challenge. To ensure success and avoid any disruption to productivity, it is important to establish concrete guidelines. Communicate the importance of employees staying focused and productive while working remotely or outside traditional office hours. – Umang Modi, TIAG, Inc.

2. Have Employees Provide Input on Schedules

Rather than driving policy from the top down, ask your teams to design their ideal flexible work schedule and propose it to leadership. Different teams will have different needs, so a one-size-fits-all approach will not optimize productivity across the system. The people closest to the work are best equipped to determine what a purposeful and productive workplace should be. – Jennifer Bryant, Unify Consulting

3. Do an Initial Pilot Program

Being able to adapt is vital. One golden tip for pioneering a flexible schedule without denting productivity is to pilot it. Initiate a short-term test run, allowing a fraction of the workforce to operate on flexible hours. Monitor outcomes, adjust based on real-time data and garner feedback. A cautious trial-and-error approach can be the compass guiding you through uncharted waters. – Joseph Soares, IBPROM Corp.

4. Provide Managers With Specialized Training

Don’t assume that the same methods managers use to drive and motivate teams in-person will work for a remote team. Before implementing such a policy, ensure that managers receive training that specifically addresses strategies for managing in a remote environment. Also, assess each position and prepare a list of challenges relevant to the position so that those issues can be addressed proactively. – Vonda Wright, L2 Defense, Inc.

5. Set Core Business Hours

The one tip I’d share is to create a common work window so employees can collaborate and you can see what’s going on. This means that whatever an employee’s schedule is, a four-hour window is established where everyone is working at the same time. It can be whatever time you decide, such as 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday. – Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

6. Put Clear Boundaries in Place

Being very clear with what attributes create and fuel the foundation of the organization. Maintaining certain boundaries and communicating clarity around them allows space for changes in other areas. Integrating flexibility does not have to coincide with “fluffiness” and disconnect, which are two themes that many leaders fear will result if they budge. – Leah Marone, Corporate Wellness Consultant

7. Have a Daily Standing Meeting

Repetition often boosts productivity. Pre-Covid, my team met in-person everyday at 8:30 a.m. to discuss key daily objectives, and it was a great way for us to always be on the same page. During Covid, this meeting moved online, and we have kept the practice ever since. Whether people are working remotely or traveling, we all try to make the 8:30 a.m. meeting for continuity and to not lose momentum. – Peter Marber, Aperture Investors

8. Look to Your Competitors and Peers

Listen to your competitors who already implemented a flexible work schedule policy to learn from their mistakes. Your team members likely talk to their peers from other firms, too, so just ask them to share what they learn. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel but do keep an open mind and be ready to accept that your idea of doing it may not be viable. – Krisztina Veres, Veres Career Consulting

9. Start Small

Start small by thinking and acting in terms of pilot tests. For example, do a half day of work from home for all employees vs. a full day. Gather feedback from your pilot and then launch your next pilot. Share what you discovered from the pilot with employees and let them know what you’ll try next. Employees engage when they experience progress and understand the “why” behind policies and procedures. – Karen Mangia, The Engineered Innovation Group

10. Provide Employee Learning Opportunities

A critical aspect of any business’s longevity is its ability to train and grow its employees. Although flexible workplaces are here to stay, it’s extremely important that this be done in such a way that it does not affect the younger generations ability to learn. Ultimately businesses should make sure they balance flexibility with hands-on experience to set the next generation up for success. – Israel Tannenbaum, Withum

11. Preserve Face-to-Face Meetings

Key staff and company meetings should be done face-to-face and in the office if possible. Other meetings like supervisor or manager to subordinate one-on-one meetings or meetings that involve sensitive topics should also ideally be done face-to-face. Employees should feel that work from home is a benefit, and that benefit can be taken away from them if they do not show results. – Zain Jaffer, Zain Ventures

12. Consider Implementing ‘Flextime Banking’

I propose “Flextime Banking,” where staff members can “deposit” extra work hours during less busy days and “withdraw” them when they need flexibility. This is meant to function like a bank account for work hours. The psychological impact of this is twofold: it rewards proactive productivity and turns time into a tangible asset. – Dr. Kira Graves, Kira Graves Consulting

13. Avoid Focusing on Face Time

Prioritize rewarding productivity and ingenuity over mere face time. A flexible work schedule can be a catalyst for nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit and creativity within your team. Encourage employees to redefine the status quo, promoting a culture where new ideas flourish and contribute to overall success. Flexibility isn’t just an accommodation—it’s an opportunity for growth and innovation. – Anna Yusim, MD, Yusim Psychiatry, Consulting & Executive Coaching

The Newsweek Expert Forum is an invitation-only network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.What’s this?Content labeled as the Expert Forum is produced and managed by Newsweek Expert Forum, a fee based, invitation only membership community. The opinions expressed in this content do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Newsweek or the Newsweek Expert Forum.

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