The onset of a global pandemic has rolled out several life-changing changes to facilitate what is now deemed as the new normal, with one being flexible work arrangements (FWAs). What was considered a trend necessitated by the highly-contagious nature of the pandemic, COVID-19 restrictions have accelerated the shift in companies’ openness to FWAs, resulting in its widespread adoption. Employees are more empowered to achieve work-life harmony with increased flexibility. On the other hand, organisations have found that offering work flexibility for their staff significantly widens their talent pool, improves retention rates, and increases productivity, among many other benefits.

But as with any business strategy, application is key for one to truly achieve a successful FWAs implementation. Take a look at the following tips to help you effectively build and implement a flexible workplace culture.

1. Planning Your Flexible Arrangement

While flexibility is in-demand, it needs to be carefully planned out to ensure that the challenges associated with these arrangements are addressed. Leaders will need to consider employee engagement, development opportunities, and career progression through an entirely new lens – one that puts their employees at the forefront, and not the location. This may translate into changes in operational processes and work capacities, which may require the implementation of job redesign or retraining schemes to fill in the gaps. 

In order to strike a better balance between engagement and flexibility, businesses in Singapore have begun to shift their focus towards hybrid work instead. Aside from hybrid working, flexible work hours have also gained significant traction.

When deciding on the type of flexible work arrangement to implement, there are three key areas to consider: time, location, and workload. Companies will need to consider each of these sectors to which best suit their environment and business operations. For instance, a compressed work schedule allows for greater flexibility and work-life balance, but this may not be suitable if work operations require set hours or involve daily deadlines. For those looking to better balance workload, job sharing is an arrangement that allows two or more part-time employees to share the responsibilities of one full-time employee.

Once your organisation has decided on a flexible work arrangement, you may start looking into preparing for a fully defined and scaled implementation process. To start, carefully review your business systems and processes before creating a plan that leaders are in agreement with. It is worth noting that this arrangement needs to meet not only your operational and business needs, but your employee’s as well. Afterwhich, you can start training your managers in the new business operations, employee management, and the like.

2. Establish Good Communication

In order for flexible work arrangements to work, good communication needs to be established. Online team collaboration programmes could amplify employee engagement efforts, creating the building blocks for effective communication. Aside from emails, ‘richer’ tools like Zoom and Teams can help facilitate consistent and solid communication. Such video conferencing tools allow for visual communication among coworkers, which also helps to reduce a sense of isolation among teams. Additionally, managers are encouraged to also do regular social check-ins with their team to monitor telework and build the team’s motivation and morale

3. Training Managers and Team Leaders

As we progress further into flexible working, managers need to be trained and empowered to offer the flexibility to their team members. A common concern for business leaders is employee engagement, which may be radically transformed due to the new modalities of work. As such, it is imperative that managers work with their team members to build trust and establish regular cadence to promote employee engagement levels. 

Effective leaders take a two-pronged approach – acknowledging employees’ stress while simultaneously providing affirmation of their confidence in their teams. Of course, this needs to be backed up with clear explanations of thorough roadmaps and practical solutions that are to be put in place to address such concerns. With such support, employees are more likely to move forward with a sense of purpose and focus.

Flexible Work Arrangements are Here to Stay

The future of work has significantly changed. In a post-pandemic world, it is increasingly apparent that flexible work is the way forward and only by embracing such arrangements can businesses truly be ahead of the curve and ensure long-term success.

The SBF Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. Singapore Business Federation launched this initiative with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on to achieve long-term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.

Make the pledge to join others in this journey.