Flexible working is a new way of working that I have adopted since becoming unwell and leaving my full time, 9-5, job. Through working flexibly, I have been able to better support my own health and develop an improved work/life balance.
Flexible working can allow employees to manage their own time, and to maximise peak productivity. It can allow for a better work/life balance which in turn can support happier and healthier employees.
Flexible working is something that Amy Bell, Managing Director of Hey Me, champions and it is a practice that is embraced by the team. It allows for our working lives to be adapted to our individual needs, encouraging productivity and growth.
Below are some of Hey Me’s top tips for flexible working:
Have a dedicated workspace; but don’t worry if you feel like a change of scenery.
– It is important to ensure that you have access to all the materials you may need for engaging with your work. This includes having the right technology, and a strong internet connection.
– Don’t be afraid to occasionally move your workspace to a different room; this may provide new inspiration and a break from the norm.
– A dedicated workspace can help you to separate your work and home life. Having a door, or a drawer, that you can open and close on your work can help to end, or start, the working day. I often leave my to-do list out on my desk ready for the next day, it’s lovely to leave this and move into home life.
Plan your workload; prioritise, organise, and diarise.
– Figure out a system that works for you! E.g. Do you like lists? Have a go at writing a list at the beginning and end of each working day, prioritising any urgent tasks.
– Use an out of office on your emails when you need ‘quiet time’ for a complex or lengthy task. My favourite: ‘Please note, I am working today but currently engaged in a task, I will come back to you as soon as possible’.
– Balance your tasks; have easier jobs that you can pick up in low productivity times, and tougher jobs for peak productivity.
– Use your calendar; this can help to notify people when you are working on different tasks.
Focus on outputs over inputs; find your peak productivity time.
– Experiment with your working day to find your peak and low productivity times. Find out what works best for you! Since embracing flexible working, I have learnt that I am an ‘early bird’ favouring an early start for an earlier finish. Whereas Amy prefers a lie in, with a later start and finish to the day.
– Focus on work completed, rather than hours worked; sometimes you may be able to complete a task faster, other times you may need longer.
– Use a tool, such as Toggl, to track your time spent on different tasks. This can be helpful for reporting, and for planning your time in the future.
– Take regular breaks – if you find you are staring at the screen, or you have hit a block, take a break, or change your activity, making a cup of tea or putting a load of washing in, for example, can help you to reset.
Communicate; internally and externally.
– Encourage open conversations; let others know when you are working, and when you will be able to complete certain tasks.
– Use an email footer to advise external recipients of your flexible working policy, this helps to manage expectations. At Hey Me, Amy Bell uses:
‘At Hey Me we work flexibly and while it may suit me to email at this time I do not expect a response if this is outside of your normal working hours’.
– Use an online system, such as Slack for checking-in to work, allowing access to others availability.
Set Clear Boundaries; establish a process.
– Employers should establish a process for flexible working, clearly setting out expectations for employees. Covering any information on core working hours, maximum working hours, etc.
– Self-motivation and discipline are important skills when working flexibly, be sure to communicate to others around you when you are working. For example, at the moment my partner and I are both working from home, so we let each other know when we need quiet time.
– Try to stick to your individual schedule and complete all required tasks.
By embracing a flexible working environment, employees can feel more supported, trusted, and valued by their company. Flexible working allows for individual employees to manage their own time, allowing for increased inclusivity and a happier, healthier, and more engaged workforce. Flexible working can have a positive impact on both employees and the business.
For more on mental health in the workplace, take a look at Jen Derrick’s, Hey Me’s Content & Copywriting Associate, blog: How to deal with digital communications overload.
For more on flexible working, and supporting staff wellbeing, take a look at Hey Me’s toolkits, which provide helpful templates and resources to help you implement ways of working.