With COVID-19, tons of businesses have adjusted their usual operations to allow employees to work from home. Although this is happening at a massive rate right now, a lot of businesses were allowing their employees the option to work from home as a perk before COVID-19.

Another big shift that has come about in the last couple of years has been the implementation of flexible work schedules.

Right now, many companies are (involuntarily) testing the waters when it comes to remote work and flexible scheduling due to COVID-19, but after they see how it benefits their employees, we have to ask ourselves, “Is this the new future of business?”

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Why were businesses shifting to offer these things to their employees pre-COVID-19? How are they successfully managing their remote workers and keeping productivity up when employees aren’t in the office and working the same hours?

We will discuss all of these questions and give you some insight into the future of business.

Note: All surveys and reports referenced in this blog are from before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Why Employees Want the Option to Work Remotely and Have Flexible Schedules

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With the power of technology and the internet, many jobs can be done partially or fully online meaning that employees (especially those aged 22-40) don’t see a need to waste time commuting to the office every single day.

Companies that have remote work options see a 25% lower turnover rate than those that don’t and 83% of U.S. survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them happier according to a report from Owl Labs.

Some companies still require employees to be online at a specific time while others combine remote work with flexible work schedules.

Flexible schedules allow people to complete their non-collaborative work when they want to. 73% of employees said flexible work arrangements increased their satisfaction at work and 78% said that they were more productive when given flexible work options according to a report from Zenefits.

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Some may spend an extra 2 hours working during the weekdays and decide they want to take a Friday or Monday off. They may take half days in order to complete personal errands or just have time for themselves if all of their tasks are complete.

Some companies are even offering something called “Summer Fridays” where they let their employees start their weekend early as long as their work is done.

The bottom line is, remote work options and flexible scheduling promote a healthy work-life balance. This is something that employees these days really care about.

In the report from Owl Labs mentioned earlier, they found that 71% of U.S. survey respondents agree that the ability to work remotely would make them more likely to choose one employer over another in their next job – this is likely correlated to having a better work-life balance i.e. no commute, the ability to work when you want, etc.

Maintaining Productivity When Employees Aren’t Physically in the Office

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One of the biggest fears employers have is that teams will not work if they are at home – which is understandable. However, 85% of businesses confirm that productivity has increased in their company because of greater flexibility options.

So, how are owners and managers monitoring the productivity of their workers when they aren’t walking by their desk every day?

1. Workflow and task management systems

This is one of the best ways to monitor output and productivity for remote workers with flexible scheduling. Systems like Trello and Wrike have become extremely popular in the last decade for monitoring the status of projects, the duration of tasks performed, and managing deadlines.

For companies with employees who perform task or project-based work i.e. non-customer support or service professionals, a workflow system is ideal for tracking productivity. Some systems even allow you to generate and print reports with timesheets, completed projects, etc.

2. Customer/client satisfaction surveys

This is a great tool to use for employees who do customer support or manage client accounts. Since their performance is based on how happy the client or customer is, the best way to keep track of their productivity and quality of work is to have them send surveys to customers and clients.

If your workers mostly interact with customers on the phone and you have a phone system that allows for features like call recording, you can listen back to calls from unsatisfied clients and customers and see where the problem lies.

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3. Weekly company-wide surveys

If your business often has employees work together on projects, weekly company-wide surveys are a must to gauge if everyone is pulling their weight but any type of company can benefit from sending out surveys to employees

These surveys do not have to be very long. Three to five questions asking things like, “How supported do you feel by your team members?” and “Are you proud of the work your team is producing?” will suffice just fine.

You can use software like Lattice or Surveymonkey to easily create employee surveys. Lattice is a bit more robust and allows your employees to also provide feedback to each other privately.

4. Virtual meetings and reliable communication tools

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A hugely important thing that you need to do to maintain current levels of productivity and continuity is to maintain communication with your employees.

Scheduling weekly video conferences with individuals and teams to check-in and giving them access to a messenger tool like Slack or Google hangouts so they can quickly ask questions and collaborate can mimic the office environment.

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They should also be able to easily set up virtual video conferences and phone meetings with clients and customers to conduct status reports, discuss strategy, and more.

The key here is to make sure that the communication tools being used are reliable. This means using a phone system that won’t drop calls, a video conferencing system that provides a clear view of each party, and a streamlined messaging system.

At the end of the day, it is up to you whether you offer remote and flexible work options after things go back to normal but it will likely become a more and more common perk that companies offer in order to attract and retain talented employees in the future.

If you are interested in discussing your business communication needs further, get in touch with the experts at Lingo. We can figure out which solutions will work for your business.

Call 888-204-4641 today to speak with one of our team members or click below to learn more about our business communication solutions.

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