Organizations are increasingly embracing flexible and remote teams. They see it as being more than just an employee benefit, but an investment with a great return. You can also effectively transform your organization into a more flexible organization and start reaping the benefits of working flexible. An organization to model for best practices in workplace flexibility is Cisco Systems. In this article we will discuss what Cisco Systems is doing right and the 5 steps you can take to make your workplace more flexible.
Step 1: Consider Workplace Flexibility to be a Business Strategy
Cisco recognizes that the most talented and skilled workers are attracted to flexible workforces. They understand that workplace flexibility can lead to more productive workers. Likewise, your organization should first consider workplace flexibility to be more than an HR benefit, but rather an element of business strategy. Flexibility at work can increase employee productivity.
Step 2: Develop Clear Policies to Guide Workplace Flexibility
Cisco states on their website that they “fully embrace flexible work practices with transparent policies regarding telecommuting, virtual teams, and flextime work options.” After your organization realizes that workplace flexibility is an important business strategy, develop clear policies for it that everyone understand and follow.
Step 3: Manage by Objective
Cisco Systems has a culture of flexibility that focuses more on worker productivity than time spent in a particular office or technical site. Using Cisco as a model, your organization can also create a culture of flexibility and collaboration by focusing on agreed upon objectives. Managing by objective opens the door to workplace flexibility because it reduces the importance of when and where work is done.
Step 4: Support Flexibility Inside the Office
Cisco’s not only focuses on working flexible outside the office but in the office as well. They have
workspaces in their offices that are optimized for supporting team communication and collaboration. Like Cisco, your organization doesn’t have to settle for the traditional cubicle farm. Develop a variety of workspaces that supports flexibility, collaboration, and communication.
Step 5: Invest in Technology and Equipment that Supports Workplace Flexibility
Cisco invests in technology that supports and improves the productivity of flexible workforces by paying for high-speed internet access at employee’s homes, discounts on routers for home offices, and providing mobile devices. Invested in equipment to enhance employees’ ability to telecommute is not a wasted investment. It would combine workplace flexibility with advanced communication technology, and that’s a winning combination.
The steps discussed above were developed from modeling the example of Cisco Systems. However, this is not the only model and these are not the only steps to becoming a flexible organization. We discussed additional approaches in one of our previous article called, How to Win with Flexible Workplaces and Remote Teams. Every organization is different and will need a plan of action tailored for their specific situation. If your organization is in the beginning phases or already in process of transitioning into a more flexible organization, it is best to have expert help with process improvement and leadership training. It is always safer to have consultants that have walked through the transition phases before to be a guide on this amazing adventure into workplace flexibility.
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The next article in this series will discuss the virtual tools that winning virtual teams are using.