New-age workplace – A culture beyond ‘fixed’ schedules & ‘concrete’ walls

A brief guide on flexible working schedules and mobile workers!

Change is eternal. Times are changing and so is the way we live and work. Technology has given new dimensions to produce and consume services. Likewise, businesses have to understand the changing needs of their employees as well as customers.

The world is slowly moving from traditional to digital way of doing business that raises the bar of customer satisfaction. On the other side, the employees should adapt to work in a customer-centric way while managing their personal life. This requirement has opened the doors to the new-age workplace with opportunities for flexible working in terms of time, place and methods.

Let us go deeper into the discussion-

What is the exact meaning of ‘flexible’ working schedules?

Flexible schedules signify different meanings for the organisation according to the employees. Mainly, it is about giving suppleness to the employees in doing their work. It means allowing them to be free and responsible in their approach. It indicates a stress-free way of doing assigned work. Flexibility may take different forms depending upon the situation-

  • Work from Home (or Wherever)
  • Mobile Field Workers
  • Part-time Employees
  • Unlimited Holidays
  • Remote Workers or Telecommuting
  • Results Only Work Environments (ROWE)
  • Partnership or Job-Sharing Opportunities
  • Freelancers

These above-mentioned categories involve a wide class of workforce not attending their work for a fixed time. They may be working from a different country, office, on-field, or their home. Also, the focus is on their work rather than the schedule.

A 2017 report by Gallup (The State of the Global Workforce) highlights that only 11% of employees in the UK are ACTIVELY engaged and enthusiastic about their work and disengagement is costing UK businesses up to £85 million in lost productivity. Rigidity, stress, and monotony can be a few of the reasons for this disengagement.

No doubt, the world is slowly rising above the routine job structure. It is shifting the focus to employ a talented workforce beyond any geographical boundaries. The businesses must understand the demand for the flexible working of this millennial generation. In a nutshell, flexible schedules free up an employee from the clutches of a clock!

Mobile working – for the employees and the customers

Mobile workers, sometimes also referred to as field workers belong to the group of employees going around different places to deliver services. Such jobs focus to serve customers at their requested locations. It may be to offer more convenience or due to the nature of the work.

Due to advancements in technology and availability of resources, the market is shifting to service-oriented business models. This means more focus on offering services at customers’ ease and convenience. For instance, food delivery, online shopping, field sales, mobile healthcare, public services, repairs and maintenance, reporting issues and complaints, etc. includes aspects allied to the digital business that demand employees to connect with customers beyond offices.

Mobile workers visit different locations either on customer’s place or other sites to do their work. Thus, it is tricky to manage their timings influenced by not only the actual work but also travel, nature of work, and other dynamic conditions. And, considering the need to have such working patterns, organisations cannot ignore them.

What problems does a company face?

Breaking the monotony of routine business patterns is not an easy thing. It is simpler to manage employees in 9-to-5 office or under direct supervision. But, monitoring mobile workers and flexible schedules is all about judging their effectiveness and productivity.

A company or its manager may find it hard to ascertain their performance. It may become difficult to manage shifts when they have the freedom to choose their time. There may be problems related to team partnership and availability. Other issues like employee costs, comparisons, efficiency, engagement, targets, ethics, etc. can also crop up.

Addressing this bunch of problems requires re-framing the policies. Everything comes at a cost. All that matters is doing business in such a way that creates loyal customers and engaged employees to beat the competitors.

How should an organisation incorporate the digital and flexible culture?

The word here is ‘Balance’ and ‘Implementation’. It points out at the fact that the employers need to understand their business requirements. Then, they need to balance it with their employees’ concerns. This shall ultimately lead to achieve the goals of productivity and customer satisfaction. It is necessary to ponder over a few pointers like-

  • Focus on results.
  • Readiness of your business to support flexible schedules.
  • Willingness of employees.
  • Identify specific projects and teams to handle flexible work.
  • Hire a good manager to bridge the gap.
  • Frame compensation, travel, security and other policies as applicable.
  • Seek a work demonstration before allowing the employees.

From a practical point of view, some actions should be useful-

  • Use collaboration tools so all employees irrespective of their working hours and place know what’s happening around.
  • Mobile applications like our MobileWorker helps supervisors in real-time tracking and smart-scheduling of tasks for field employees.
  • Help employees connect via casual gatherings.
  • Give freedom but take follow-ups and feedback.
  • Use cloud technology to enable employees capture their every single update and communicate back to you.
  • Hear back from your customers as well to know if your employees are living up to their promises.
  • Learn from examples.

Once a company can analyse what is the best way to offer new-age workplace, it can go a long way with a team of loyal and productive employees. The only key point is making use of technology and ensuring timely communication.

Free them, Empower them!