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Working from home, remote work, flexible work, telecommuting – whatever you call it, it means the same thing. It is the ability to flexibly work from wherever is convenient for the employee, and it is popular. Having a flexible work environment is definitely a huge plus, and it is becoming more and more of a necessity. As an employer, you may want to eventually create a flexible work environment, but you’re not sure how to get there. In this blog post, we’re going to break down the different steps you should be taking if you want to work towards creating a flexible work environment.

Supply the Technology Your Employees Need

The first step to creating a flexible work environment is providing the necessary collaborative technology that your employees will need to make a flawless transition. Making sure that everyone is on the same page with their technology will ensure that the online meetings, online communication, and online work goes easier. Of course our #1 recommendation for technology that suits a flexible workspace is a VoIP phone system. VoIP systems are really what make telecommuting so viable and simple. It allows remote workers to connect to one another in real time, at any time.

Supplying a laptop to your team is the #1 technology must when transitioning to a flexible workplace. You want to make sure that everyone has consistent, working technology that they can easily travel with. You’ll want to make sure you have some type of remote support set in place so that your team can have consistent IT support if needed. Equipping employees with laptops ensures optimal productivity in the office and on the go. Your employees will also appreciate you taking the steps to make sure they have everything they need.

Video meeting and conferencing solutions are a huge help in keeping everyone connected, focused, and collaborative. They’re also much more effective then simply having a phone call meeting. A few reasons they are superior include human connection, visual aids, and increased productivity. Read more about video conferencing here: 5 Reasons Video Meetings Are More Effective.

Having a designated chat service that includes your entire team is a necessity when everyone is not in the same workspace. Utilizing something such as Slack can be a powerful cultural tool that can help strengthen employees ties to each other and to their work. Being able to quickly chat with one another can make all the difference on the collaboration spectrum, and make people feel like they are not alone.

CallHarbor also supplies a mobile app to our customers, so your employees can stay extra connected. Our industry leading mobile app has many great capabilities, such as dialing out numbers and extensions and chatting and sending SMS, all while utilizing your desk phone number. You can also view the presence of your coworkers, and record new voicemail greetings on the go, right from your mobile phone.

Provide Necessary Training

Providing the necessary training so that all of the employees are on the same technical level is a great way to make everyone feel more comfortable with the transition. Offer in person and video training sessions for any new software that you may be installing, and create easy to follow documents that are easily accessible by everyone. You also want to make sure that everyone feels comfortable reaching out to the appropriate person for help, whether that is the manager, the IT team, or just a tech-savvy team member.

Set Clear Guidelines

Making sure that you set clear goals and guidelines is a big thing leading into a flexible work environment. Make sure that all of your employees know what is expected of them. They need to know what is appropriate, what isn’t going to work, and what their options are, so that everyone is on the same page going into the transition. Setting clear expectations and guidelines of what you want and need done by your employees is always a strong way to make sure you get the results you are expecting. It’s even more necessary with a remote team, since you won’t be able to pop by their desk for an update. It’s common for assignments to get pushed back or forgotten about, and employees from your team are going to work at difference paces – especially if remote working is new to your team. There are also digital tools that you can use to set deadlines that will lay all projects and requests out in one easy to read platform. Our CallHarbor team recommends Trello, which we use for our collaboration on deadlines and projects.

Listen to & Consider Employee Feedback

A very important part about making the transition to a flexible workplace is to listen to your employees and their concerns. Ask if there is anything that you or your team can do during the transition (that isn’t already planned) to make it easier on them. Let them know what is coming, how it is going to go, and what you plan on doing to combat any hiccups. You should decide ahead of time how exactly your flexible working program will run. There are some important questions to answer, such as: will your employees get to work from home, and how often? What should they be able to access from home? Can they work from home for a whole week? Can they work from home permanently? What tools do they need? How often should they be in the office? Can they split their days? Feedback from employees will help you plan everything according to their needs and your goals. Once flexible work has begun, regularly check in with your team and ask for feedback. Engage in this feedback and use it to create the most productive space possible for your employees, and for yourself.

Implement a Flexible Work Environment

The last step of creating work flexibility, is implementing it! Once you have the proper technology in place, everyone feels trained and ready, and you’ve gotten good feedback from your employees, you are ready to go. Pick and specific start date, and get rolling. Remember, the best part about flexible work… is that it’s flexible. If something isn’t working, or you need to change things around, it can be easily done. You don’t have to worry about being stuck in a bad situation. A flexible work culture allows employees to maintain a healthier work-life balance, which leads to better productivity.