We’ve got the technology to make flexible working a reality – but it’s taking time for our bosses' mind-sets to catch up, according to the findings of Regus’ global survey on new ways of working.
Of the 24,000 responses, a staggering 89% said that their managers needed to accept flexible working more, while 85% said they wanted their bosses to show more trust in staff who are working flexibly.
So how do you convince your manager that your days out of the office aren’t spent lunching with friends or channel surfing on the sofa?
Is this what your boss thinks you're doing when you work from outside the office?
I manage a flexible sales force of accounts directors. My people work where they need, when they need, and I judge them by results. Getting to a place where I felt confident doing this wasn't easy, though. The trick is to create a foundation of trust – trust that you’ll keep your boss and your team in the loop, that you’re as productive as you where when you were desk based, and that this new way of doing things won’t negatively impact business or customers.
Easier said than done?
Here are my five top tips on to ensure your manager trusts you to work flexibly:
1: Meet fears with solutions
Cutting days in the office may aid work life balance, but for your boss it means you're harder to keep track of. Provide them with the solution. Can one of your team deputise for you in those impromptu meetings? Can your boss genuinely reach you at any time on Skype or your mobile? Have you shared your calendar with him, so he can always know where you are each day?
2: Keep colleagues in the loop
It’s not just your boss who may be anxious about flexible working. If you manage a team they’ll want to know how it impacts them too. Take their feelings into account. What’s in it for them? Is there a chance to use new technology - Google Hangouts, perhaps, or videoconferencing – to bring your team closer together.
3: Test it out
Give yourself, your boss and your team, time to adjust with a trial period. This can be as short as month or as long as six. Meet your boss half way through, and at the trial’s end review how it went and hopefully tweak and move forward.
4: Track your performance
Work out how you will demonstrate your performance to your boss. This is less of an issue with sales where targets are set, but with project work, it may be worth providing your boss with a daily or weekly to-do list or status report to keep them informed of your workload and when tasks are complete. When the UK listings company Yell switched to flexible working, they found productivity increased across the board. You'll probably find the same – so make sure you can prove it.
5: Exercise some give and take
If you want to work flexibly – then be flexible. That means that your Blackberry’s always on, an urgent email will be answered at the weekend, and you head to your local Regus office at short notice to be video-conferenced in on a crisis meeting. Make this the new normal, and everyone will understand that you still take work seriously even if you’re not in the office.