I can't come to work today...
That's probably one of the last statements a boss wants to hear from an employee.
But it's not always due to illnesses (or laziness) - sometimes our Wisenet team simply can't get to the office for work due to legit reasons like:
- Summertime Sadness, Melbourne (the office's air conditioner was out for 3 weeks)
- Train strikes, Melbourne
- Heavy, biting snow, Queenstown
- Hazardous air pollution, Singapore (due to fires in Indonesia)
- Train breakdowns, Singapore
Yet on all occasions it was Business As Usual for Wisenet across the world -- from Cairns to Las Vegas, the Philippines to Perth, and Singapore to Melbourne -- thanks to our flexible work policies for business operations and good preparation for unforeseen circumstances. Our results speak for themselves.
We'd like to share 5 ways we've found to make flexible work arrangements work!
1) Adopt a Cloud-First Strategy
Almost certainly, any aging desktop app you are using can be replaced with a modern, mobile friendly, easy to use cloud-based applications - probably at a lower price point, too! Aim to retire local storage and desktop apps in favour of modern cloud apps from reputable vendors.
Working remotely requires a reliable, low latency connection. Mobile 4G is offers very good bandwidth and low latency - often better than wired broadband. A slow (<4MBs) and high latency (>150ms) connection will result in awkward delays when using the phone. It also makes video conferencing full of white noise distractions.
Thinking of starting a Remote Worker policy? For starters, have your remote team member conduct a speed test from their location and send you the report.
2) Collaborate with Office Productivity Apps
If you are still stuck using Microsoft Office locally, consider the significant collaboration benefits offered by cloud-based apps like Google Apps for Business (or Microsoft Office 365). Your team can work in the same document at the same time. Sure, you might trade off some fancy features (which you probably never use), but that's in return for convenience and productive team work.
The best part? Thanks to cloud computing, your documents are saved on every single keystroke. Say good-bye to losing important changes you've made!
3) Keep everyone in the loop with Voice & Video
Out of sight shouldn't mean out of mind -- it can be easy to forget about a remote worker. This can lead to feelings of isolation and fear by remote workers that they will be excluded from projects and opportunities if they are not in the office.
Communicate effectively and efficiently, and take it online. Nothing beats telephone or video calls when it comes to this!
At Wisenet we use a fully cloud-based Cisco VoIP phone system, which we can access via an app on our iPhone or Laptop. It feels like we're on the different floors in the same building even though we are in different countries! If you're not using a VoIP phone system, you're probably paying too much and are definitely stuck in the last century when it comes to convenience.
For video conferencing, we use Google Hangouts which is a solid business tool, and in our experience is far superior to Skype, which is more of a consumer product.
4) Set Boundaries
With great flexibility comes great responsibility.
Most companies today lack the infrastructure, policies, and practices for flexibility in business operations.
48% of businesses support flexible work practices, but only 13.7% of businesses have well-developed strategies to manage it (Financial Business Review, 2015). It seems that Wisenet is the exception rather the rule here.
The impetus for the establishment of a well-developed company policy is greater than ever - flexi-work can work if all the right elements are in place. It's important that everybody understands the expectations of working remotely or with a flexi-work scheme.
At Wisenet we've found most be people to be very respectful of the opportunity to work remotely. Our team understands that flexible work arrangements don't mean: "I'm preparing Christmas dinner", or "I'm repainting the house." The expectation is that the productivity level increases due to the absence of commute time or obstacles that might impact efficiency or concentration.
We've made a copy of our own Work From Home policy, free for download! Look below!
5) Practice Working Remotely
Remote working requires trust and takes some getting used to. By incorporating remote workers into day-to-day management, the culture will become shared and feel more natural.
We've tried and tested it, with ourselves as subjects.
Flexible arrangements help Wisenet attract and retain quality team-members from across the world. We are not limited by geography or the traditional 9-5pm work day.
Our Wisenet team has developed strong policy and quality management practices. Coupled with a common understanding across the team, our workplace dynamics are nicely flavoured with workplace flexibility.
Does your registered training organisation have flexible work schemes? Why/why not? Share your story in the comments!