MP Message

Flexible Work Environment

MP MessageThis past summer, our Managers, Senior Managers and Partners attended the Anytime, Anywhere Work™ workshop presented by Jennifer Wilson, one of our profession’s leading management consultants. We enjoyed an interactive conversation about managing a flexible work environment, and appreciated everyone’s open and honest participation.

A misconception about flexible work arrangements is that it means “less work” arrangements, which is certainly not the case. Having a better understanding of the policy will go a long way towards improving the adoption and acceptance of our firm’s flex policies. Here are a few key takeaways from the training that should help clarify what is needed to make our flexible culture a success:

1. Necessary shifts in mindset, to truly facilitate an environment open to flexible work practices.
Stamp out “sludge,” which are back-handed comments poking fun at someone who is working non-traditional hours. Instead, work to create a culture where team members feel like they are winning in both their work and their personal lives because it is acceptable to take advantage of the flexible work place:
· Leaders are encouraged to share their use of flexibility and promote the personal benefits they experience.
· Lead by Example – Mark your private appointments as personal on your calendars, and share your availability and location on your Skype settings.

2. Manage Clear Expectations:
Use the 6 elements of clear delegation to facilitate accountability, as shared by Jennifer Wilson:

• Here What I’m Asking you to commit to (specifics of deliverable or performance)
• This is Who “owns” progress and deliverable
• This is when we expect you to deliver this (or status on the progress)
• These are the Resources I think you’ll need to accomplish this project (hours, materials, people etc)
• This is how and when to return and report status or when deliverable is to be complete
• This is my understanding of what we agreed to (written recap of your plan)

In addition:
• Be upfront.
• Keep your word.
• Re-set expectations as needed.
• Include your team in kick-off and planning meetings; train them in time-lining.

3. Communication:
· Understand each other’s communication preferences – moderate and adapt to improve overall team communication.
· Clearly communicate and reinforce Withum’s 24-hour responsiveness expectations and the nature of our business requires additional hours – especially during busy season.
· Clearly communicate expectations and needs with regards to “no mandatory Saturdays” – The goal is to ensure that the hours are put in to get the work done; and it shouldn’t matter how those hours are clocked – just that they are. If you need extra bodies on a Saturday or on a certain evening, communicate that.
· Clearly communicate expectations and needs with regards to no minimum weekly hour requirements during busy season.
· Communicate client commitments.
· Remind everyone of their charge hour goals.

4. Technology: Train your team on how to use the tools (i.e. Skype, sharing Outlook calendars, etc.) and use them consistently.
· Helps clarify when team members are “on” or “off”.
· Encourages transparency.

5. Flexibility is a two-way street: You must address it when it is not working and keep refining it until it does.

Please know that the happiness and well-being of our team members is important to us. The cornerstone of our success is truly the loyal and talented professionals who work here every day. Our firm’s culture and commitment to providing a great work environment includes allowing our team the flexibility with their schedules to tend to personal matters or enjoy special life occasions, successfully balancing their client work while doing so.

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