We would like to take this opportunity to thank our Keynote Speaker – David Blackburn and our fantastic team of Peer Mentors who lead us through FlexForward22 on 13th May.

Not to forget the attendees who contributed in such an open and collaborative way – especially as we know some of you encountered technical issues accessing the event and breakout rooms.

Trust – On both sides – Managers and Staff

  • Good Managers lead by example – they already understand and embrace flexible working, how it benefits the company and the employee, they extoll the benefits of utilising the office for collaboration, celebration, socialising and encourage teams to utilise the office space on a regular basis
  • Managers need to know how to manage their teams remotely and support them so they can have a productive and engaged workforce and ensure no one is “gaming the system”, (although we acknowledged that this has long been a problem in the office). There needs to be a balance, by allowing freedom but also trusting staff.
  • Managers need to a safe space to try things out – to find out what is right for that team – one size doesn’t fit all. Within some companies different set ups work better for different teams, teams need to trust that their managers are doing the right thing by them and managers need to trust that teams are getting the work done in the agreed time frame (however that looks for that member of staff).
  • Staff flexibility – there are occasions when teams need to be all together in the office, which could be outside of the new routine of when a team member is scheduled to be in the office. It is also important to recognise that one size does not fit all – people have different working styles – not everyone likes working in an open plan office, not everyone has a suitable home set up, some people prefer to start and finish early and vice versa.
  • Making flexible working work needs to start from a point of trust
    • Trust is a very personal thing – does it start from a place of trust or does someone need to earn trust? When offering flexible working – when are they working, where are they working, how are they working?

Them and Us

  • Divisions and cracks can appear within teams and resentment sets in
    • Team members can feel they are being treated/rewarded differently depending on how visible they are at the office
    • Team members who don’t visit the office on a regular basis can feel it’s perceived they are not making the effort
    • Team members who choose to not attend the office on a regular basis feel left out of the loop and not integral or included in remote meetings when a large contingent are together in the office

Sense of Entitlement

  • Huge expectations – from a younger generation, (not just during/since the pandemic but there’s been a gradual shift over last few years) companies are fearing this change because they’re worried it’s a one-way street
  • Younger generations coming through door expect more around flexible working and if a company doesn’t offer it another company will

In Summary

  • Flexible working takes on a different meaning from company to company and within that from team to team
  • There has to be trust from both management and team members
  • Flexible working is a new way of working which is here to stay but no one has all the answers yet, there’s a long way to go before it embeds and becomes part of everyday life
  • Trust is key – that team members working remotely are fulfilling their roles, they are happy to alter their routine, to collaborate in the office, meet socially and not think of coming into the office as a punishment. The office definitely still plays an important role
  • There isn’t a them and us scenario, we are all in this together and the more we work together to make flexible working, the more we will all benefit from the flexibility it offers us.

Finally, as younger generations join our companies flexible working will be the norm, so the sooner we embrace it, the sooner we will be able to attract and retain talent that could otherwise go elsewhere.

We hope you find this summary of benefit, if you haven’t had a chance to read these reports which relate to the themes covered in FlexForward22, we’ve included the links and look forward to seeing you all again at the next FlexForward event – later this year.

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