Don’t Take the All or Nothing Approach… It’s All About Choice!

When developing your strategy for workplace flexibility, it shouldn’t be all or nothing – work in the office, or work from home.  The best strategies offer flexibility and choice in ways that consider employee workstyle preferences, leadership preferences and work to be done. Companies need to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, safety and security is embedded in any flexible work culture. We’ve shared how a cross functional team of leaders willing to invest some time can net positive results in creating flexible work cultures.  Often this involves reviewing job functions and determining the level of flexibility that makes sense. It involves reviewing processes to enable mobility including the creation or updating of policies and procedures and clearly communicating them. And last but certainly not least (usually the most important) — training leaders to lead distributed teams and employees to work in them is essential.

We recently worked with a client who was consolidating their real estate footprint that included building closures and relocations. Some employees had to work from home – no other option existed, their office closed. Others faced a longer commute when their office relocated, but work from home wasn’t an option.  This company was successful because their executive leadership made a commitment to the following: process redesign across lines of business to optimize workflows, a policy review to mitigate risks to the business, and offering workplace choices to their employees. Here is their story:

Client

An 800 employee New England regional health plan

Challenges

A leading healthcare employer in New England was seeking to consolidate its real estate footprint by closing regional offices and relocating corporate headquarters within a one year timeframe to achieve administrative expense savings. To accommodate this new footprint and meet objectives, this insurer needed to convert 20% of the employee base to telework, a goal easier said than done.  Resistance emerged from leaders and employees and outdated manual office procedures needed redesign and automation.

Solution

Flexwork Global (FWG) led a team of senior leaders from IT, HR and Real Estate to address these challenges. FWG provided the leadership team with an integrated project plan to meet an aggressive timeline to ensure a seamless transition to telework for employees while closing regional offices and moving to new corporate headquarters. The solution was multifaceted and divided into two-phases.

Phase one focused on closure of regional offices, workflow review of tasks performed out of these offices, an evaluation of space and storage needs and deploying staff to home offices to ensure compliance in remote locations.

  • Process Redesign. Most employees in regional offices performed their jobs in the office each day. This included phone contact with members and providers followed by correspondence with heavy reliance on manual processes – writing, printing, filling envelopes and using USPS. Customer facing employees obtained signed documents that were scanned and stored in a regional office while literature and giveaways were stored locally as well. During a review of existing processes, leaders documented job functions, site visits with employees were conducted, new processes, workflows and corporate recommendations pinpointed where efficiencies could be realized across business units and how a seamless transition to work from home met deadlines.

 Phase two involved the move of corporate headquarters, addressed additional deployments to home and employee commute concerns for those relocating to the new building. Phase two also addressed leader concerns about distributed teams and a quality of experience assessment of current remote employees to establish baseline data.

  • Flexible Work Program Review and Training. FWG provided leader training on flexible options for eligible employees and workforce planning guidelines to minimize disruption to workflows and deliverables.
  • Policy and Procedure. Many employees of this health plan deploying home full or part-time were non-exempt. FWG audited policies and procedures and delivered an updated corporate-wide policy and procedure guide. Enabling remote work that ensured safety and security for employees and the clients they served was essential.
  • Leader Communication Training. FWG delivered a training program for leaders to strengthen competencies around communications planning and set expectations with distributed teams; the curriculum was provided to the client for future training needs.
  • Teleworker Survey Assessment. FWG conducted an assessment of remote workers to determine quality of experience, employee engagement and establish baseline data for evaluation. With more than an 80% employee response, findings were plentiful and positive.

What did the client have to say?

“The good folks at Flexwork Global were instrumental to our successfully accomplishing our goal to convert 20% of our workforce to telework inside of one year.  Their expertise in flexible work arrangements help us time and again to foresee potential problems and solve issues as they occurred with proven solutions.  I highly recommend partnering with FWG to any business leader seeking to establish or improve their flexible work offerings.  First Class.” – VP HR

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