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How to design a flexible role

Updated: Sep 9, 2020


It’s been a fast-moving unpredictable time, especially for UK business, but what we do know is that flexible working is now more of a necessity than a nice-to-have. And, although the transition to homeworking has happened very quickly, it’s now time to take a longer-term view on how this way of working is going to shape-up in the future.


COVID-19 has brought about a realisation that full time presenteeism doesn’t mean full time productivity.


Barclays and WPP have both announced they are now looking to de-centralise and that flexible will be the norm post-lockdown, with corporate offices or headquarters a thing of the past.


For employees and the UK workforce, this change has been a long time coming with flexible working having always been a key priority:


• 81% are looking for some form of homeworking when choosing their next employer

• 45% would ideally like a part-time working pattern in their next role

• 50% find it more attractive than a 10% salary increase


However, the new normal isn’t simply about working from home, it’s about managing people, budgets and the types and styles of flexibility that is required.


Financial belts will be tightened, and teams will need clarity on roles and responsibilities, so it’s more important than ever to be clear on the flexibility you need across the enterprise.


We take a look at how flexible job design can help you determine the type of flexibility you and your teams need more effectively, so you can get your workforce back up and running as seamlessly as possible.


Rolling-out flex: common pitfalls

Lockdown has meant we’ve all had to feel our way through the transition to home working, but a lot of the norms and conventions have been put to one side in favour of a ‘let’s see how it works’ approach.


However, longer-term, this isn’t really sustainable. With employees set to spend less time in the office, previous responsibilities may no longer be relevant outside of the workplace, and certain roles may now require different levels of responsibility.


It’s also going to be vital to factor in employee concerns around commuting, as well as workplace social distancing policies, which will mean reducing headcount in the office with hot desking no longer a viable option.


Agreeing to flex without considering the job design can do more damage than good

A key mistake made by many organisations is to agree to reduce an employee’s days or hours, renegotiate salary and then believe that flexibility has been successfully implemented. Unfortunately, that is not flexible working: it is more akin to asking an employee to do a fulltime job in less time.


This approach can alter the dynamic across teams. The employee may feel they’ve been set-up to fail while colleagues might feel overstretched by having to take up the slack, which creates resentment.


It’s also important to note that communicating flexibility is also an area prone to pitfalls. There can be a disconnect between what is communicated versus what is understood in a newly defined role, so clarity is crucial.


Rolling-out a flexible working plan or strategy does mean a mindset shift and does mean redefining roles to be more effective for this way of working.


The importance of flexible job design

Flexible job design allows you to create clear, effective and measurable job descriptions, so that all parties, namely the employee and manager, have clear goals and objectives.


So how do you design a flexible role?


When it comes to redefining job descriptions, there are a range of elements that need to be assessed before agreeing the type of flex an employee requires.


Location

Some roles are such that an individual needs to be in the office or at a specific site or location. Think about how this can be adjusted to allow for remote working. This will also allow you to get a clearer picture on location dependent employees, which could prove useful when assessing social distancing desk policies.


Workflow

This focuses on stakeholder responsibility and the exact nature of the role. It’s important here to assess whether the job maintains the same level of work that follows the same patterns or deadlines, or whether it is more interchangeable on a weekly or monthly basis.


Availability and predictability

Does that stakeholder need to be team-facing at all times? If so, how quickly do they need to engage or respond? As a manager, they may control the flow of work or may have to pivot quickly to focus on a new task, which may require team meetings.


Segmentation

Assess if the role can be segmented to allow for colleagues to take on new responsibility or shared with a peer. This could be an opportunity to support and nurture employee development.


How flexible job design helps

A well-designed flexible role can help increase employee productivity and motivation. 70% of UK employees want to work flexibly, and now is the time to respond to market need, but it must be effective, realistic, achievable and measurable in order to succeed.


The RoleMapper is a job design platform that helps organisations create and scale consistent best practice, job design, job profiles, job descriptions and job adverts.


By automating the flexible job design process, RoleMapper not only reduces the time it takes to design roles, but also removes bias, shift manager mindsets and supports a more inclusive organisational culture.


We are currently offering a cost-effective Proof of Concept trial of RoleMapper. If you would like to find out more, why not get in touch with us at enquiries@rolemapper.tech and find out how we can help your business.


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