Less rigidity, more fluidity in the workplace

Before Covid19 flexible working arrangements were popular but not seen in every company. Through Covid19 employees and employers have seen first-hand that it is possible to work remotely, be productive, and deliver results. Although we need to be mindful that not all businesses can work remotely, the vast majority can.

Employers have an opportunity to relax the rigidity of the traditional working environment and offer a more fluid approach that focuses on outcomes, not hours.  

Recent times have proven the possibility of flexibility is now a reality

WHAT does less rigidity, more fluidity mean?

A less rigid workforce means moving away from the highly structured office environment and the structured 9am-5pm expectation. A more fluid approach is supporting work and life integration with less focus on the hours expected to be visible in the office, the start and finish time, and the location of where employees work. 

A more fluid workforce focuses on outcomes, giving full autonomy and accountability to employees to deliver results. 

what are the potential challenges for you to be aware of?

Managing expectations of the workforce

Changing to a fluid approach relies on trust between the employer and employee. By clarifying and communicating the specific objectives, methodology, and expected outcomes in an agreed timeframe employees and employers can create a positive and transparent environment of trust.

Getting the balance right

Every employee has their own personal circumstances that drives their work preferences.  It is difficult for most businesses to satisfy all their employees and there is no one size fits all. A common approach is the hybrid work environment offering 1-3 days per week in the office and the rest from home or remotely. The opportunity to offer a hybrid approach enhances the work-life integration for employees, reduces the stress of a commute, and increases productivity. Companies that revert to the traditional approach do run the risk of loosing their talent to companies that offer a hybrid approach.

Having a vague job description

The way we work and connect has fundamentally changed. Not just because of Covid19 but also because of digital transformation. It is too easy to revert to the job description HR has filed away. However, this old job description may not be as valuable in today’s environment.  What methodology is needed now and what deliverables are expected? Having clarity around this helps leaders and employees change their practices from just completing KPI’s to achieving outcomes that accelerates progress.


what opportunities do you get from a fluid workforce?

Focus on deliverables, not hours worked

Creating a framework around the outcomes gives employers and employees an opportunity to focus less on official hours and more on achieving deliverables. For highly productive employees they may achieve their deliverables in four days, whilst others take five days or conversely, they may take four hours in a day to deliver results compared to eight hours for others. By focusing on deliverables, you encourage autonomy and accountability in your workforce.  

Pay for performance incentives

The focus on deliverables can create a better platform for pay for performance rewards and recognition. For those employees that want to overachieve they can be rewarded and recognised for their higher level of performance and results through pay for performance incentives.

Potential of accessing talent without the constraints of location

The benefit of accepting a remote and flexible work environment opens the door to a greater reach of potential talent. Talent is global and with location not being a barrier the talent pool becomes so much broader giving you more choice to attract, hire and retain high-quality talent that can accelerate your business performance.

How can you better prepare for less rigidity and more fluidity in the workplace?

Accept the new reality, the way we work has fundamentally changed

The way we work has fundamentally changed. Accepting this is important for the future of your business. How you choose to structure your working arrangements in the future will be a testament to your leadership.

Research before making a final decision, do not base decisions on assumptions

It is important not to make assumptions. Do your research thoroughly. What are your competitors doing? What are other industries and markets doing? What are they talking about in podcasts, in the news, and at industry events? What do your employees want? Find the facts before making any decisions.

Act or your employees will

It is important to act. If you do not act you will be left behind and in the process, you will lose staff, especially your high-quality talent. Not only will you lose staff, but you will also find it difficult to employ new talent and you will lose your competitive edge.

Get your systems ready

With so much fluidity you need to get your operational systems up and running.. Covid19 will have forced many companies to do this already. In each department or functional area do you have processes and systems in place to improve your working practices, streamline your operations, and improve the effectiveness of how you work? If not, you need to act on this first. It will be your systems that will help you manage, monitor, and sustain a more fluid workforce.

Communicate and then communicate some more

Communication is vital. Communication with leaders and employees to manage concern, questions, performance and under performance. The method and approach you use to communicate should be multifaceted, repeated, and consistent in the tone and messaging both in your formal and informal communication. Your leaders need to be on the same page to minimise any miscommunication. Communication is fundamental to change management and the most critical aspect in creating a fluid work environment that also encourages a physically and psychologically safe place to work.

Change in the recruitment process to help you make the right decision for your business

With a greater pool of talent to tap into companies need to be clearer in exactly what they need in their new employees including skill, capabilities, experience, and character. The attraction strategies need to be targeted to engage the right talent for your business. Attracting the wrong talent only adds to the workload of your talent acquisition, human resources, and hiring managers. The assessment and selection process needs to be meticulously thought out to extract the information needed to make the right hiring decisions. The recruitment process is bespoke to your business and your needs.

Redefine the job description

The refocus on the job description helps to get things right in the first place. The job description sets the guidelines on the criterion, responsibilities, and deliverables for the business. If there is no clarity in the job description and people are vague on what they need to achieve then the outcomes will not happen. Unfortunately, job descriptions are still either vague or out of date. By focusing on the detail of the job description you can create effective recruitment practices, performance management processes, as well as learning and development platforms.

Hunton Executive can help you plan for a less rigid, more fluid workplace.

For a comprehensive guide to attracting, recruiting, and retaining your talent contact Hunton Executive.


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