Virtual Teams

10 sources of work flexibility for people tied to a location

We are running a number of workshops for very senior groups on what kind of hybrid culture they want to create. Most of the focus on hybrid working so far has been on office based staff. Several of the senior groups were also thinking about how to provide equity on flexibility with office staff for their location based staff in manufacturing, operations, logistics, food service and construction.

Many jobs require people to visit a location, to use equipment, facilities or speciality materials (such as warehousing and manufacturing) or where the work is in a specific location, such as construction or food service.

Some of these people are feeling left out of the debate on flexible working. This may lead to feelings of lower value, or a lack of fairness.

At the same time, these sectors and roles will need to compete for talent against jobs that may offer more location flexibility. Flexibility is a major factor in attraction and retention.

People do understand that you can’t do most of a food service or factory role from home. They are looking for an opportunity to find ways to be flexible within these constraints. They would also like to be involved in developing the solution.

In the same way that many companies were resistant to remote working from offices, we now need a mindset shift towards flexibility in these other roles.

Those companies moving in this direction seem to adopt 3 principles

  1. The belief that every role can have flexibility, but not the same kind of flexibility. We should start with the assumption we can, and ask “how” not “if”.
  2. The understanding that a “one size fits all” approach won’t work
  3. The opening of a conversation with their people about what would work – involvement, not top down direction

There seem to be several different types of flexibility under consideration (find the 10+ areas to look at within the list)

  1. Giving more flexibility around the working day – more flexible start and finish hours, changes to shift patterns, making it easier for people to swap shifts, flexitime and the ability to “bank” hours and time off. Some are also looking at a “compressed week” (4 days or <12 hour shifts)
  2. More flexibility around the working year – more consultation on factory shutdowns, annual hours contracts with seasonal flexibility in hours
  3. More flexibility of roles – job sharing, part time working, working from home assignments
  4. Flexible location within mainly location based roles  – what aspects of the jobs could be done remotely, such as administration, training, meetings perhaps enabling a proportion of home working
  5. Providing an upskilling route to move into part or full time to jobs with more flexibility opportunity

If our initial response is “that wouldn’t work” that may be what we thought about office roles pre-COVID.

As flexible working becomes more embedded and office based people start to return to the office in a hybrid pattern, expect the very reasonable question “why not us too”? The blog above gives you at least 10 places to start looking for more flexibility

What are you doing to prepare for this question?

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