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How to design systemic flexibility




When designing flex into roles, make sure you make the viable options fair, consistent and open to all. People want increased flexibility for a whole range of reasons. If there is one thing this pandemic is revealing is that that people are reflecting on what is important in their lives.


By now, many employees working from home in the lockdown will have made quite firm decisions around how they wish to operate going forward. Some will have decided that there is nothing in their lives quite like their family and, for that reason, that they wish to extend remote working indefinitely or move to a more flexible working arrangement.

Making flex work As it stands today, 90%+ of jobs are designed to fit office-based 9-5pm working patterns. However, COVID-19 has helped shift pre-conceived notions and traditions.

As a Victorian premise based around factory working hours, the 9-5 is massively outdated.

Productivity profiles are more personal; for any organisation, productivity and doing a job well are key, so a job should bring the best out the best in an employee. For example, some people work better in the morning and others at night; by breaking these time constraints, a business can help make employees more productive.

Now, there may well be a school of thought around letting this next wave of flexibility naturally take a more organic path; let managers work with it and have ‘tailored’ conversations at employee level. It is absolutely right that these conversations happen between employees and managers, but you need to beware the pitfalls of letting this pan out without a systematic approach. Plan, Tools and Guidance

  • Give your managers the tools and guidance to help them plan and manage the varying work schedules and locations.

  • Help them to put in place processes and communications protocols and management tools to enable collaboration across locations

  • Help them change the currency or work from time and attendance to outcomes and objectives.


Flexible job design

  • Set up a mechanism to help your managers assess the flexible job design dimensions for their roles.

  • Embed a systematic approach to assessing job and team flexibility that takes into account all the variables that have an operational impact on varying ways to work flexibly in the role.

  • Help identify a systematic and consistent view of the viable working patterns that not only work for the employee but also work for the business and the team.

Seize the opportunity As we come out of lockdown, there will be a significant change in how the workplace looks and operates in the future. For example, some companies will trial moves to a smaller set of core hours so they can manage meetings and interactions while still offering flexibility for employees. Others will use technology to enhance the working-from-home experience.


The workplace we go back to will be very different. Business leaders need to develop a vision of what their workplace should look like and design systemic, sustainable flexibility into their workforce.

The opportunity is now. But the question is, how will you challenge the traditional thinking that still exist in your organisations? How will you challenge this systematically at scale?

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