How to lead a flexible working team is something all companies have had to get to grips with. To support them, XpertHR has created a briefing document for line managers for leading a flexible working team, so they will be more confident in running flexible operations.

The experience of working from home, forced on many people by the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, has dramatically changed attitudes towards flexible working. According to research from the CIPD[i], 18% of employees regularly worked from home before the lockdown, and when the crisis is over, 37% will continue to do so.

Other research from the University of Kent and the University of Birmingham[ii] found a steep rise in the number of employees working flexibly, with 86% of those surveyed working from home at some point during lockdown. Most said they would prefer to work more flexibly in the future, after benefitting from having a better work-life balance, being more productive and improving their wellbeing during lockdown.

XpertHR’s briefing considers the different forms of flexible working including part-time, flexitime, compressed hours and remote working, regulations around flexible working and the benefits for both employees and employers, as well as tips for success.

Jeya Thiruchelvam, managing editor at XpertHR says, “Despite the lack of preparation, the sudden increase in homeworking did not cause chaos for businesses. Individuals adapted well and, in many cases, improved their productivity. Managers found ways to continue face-to-face interactions, using technology to hold virtual meetings and maintain social contact within their teams.

“Now, many employees want to continue working flexibly and it’s important for line managers to be supportive. If not, organisations may find it hard to retain talented workers, who might look elsewhere for roles that are more flexible. Similarly, new recruits are likely to have expectations around working flexibly and may have little interest in taking up a position if flexible working is not available.”

XpertHR’s line manager briefing suggests that allowing their team to work flexibly involves an element of “letting go”, which can sometimes feel uncomfortable for managers. It highlights three principles they need to observe to make flexible working a success for them, their team and the organisation:

Trust your team. Line managers must trust that their team will work diligently towards their objectives without controlling every aspect of how they work. Trusting their team to work conscientiously when they cannot see them is fundamental to the success of flexible working.

Know your team. Each employee is an individual with their own unique combination of strengths and weaknesses and personal circumstances and life commitments. Line managers cannot have a constructive conversation about the different ways in which their employees work in a vacuum; they need to get to know them. What other life commitments do they have? What are their aspirations? What motivates them day to day?

Have confidence in yourself as a manager. If line managers are confident in their abilities and guide and support their team, they can create a positive environment and explore and incorporate new ways of working. Line managers should also know their own weaknesses, so they have insight into areas they need to pay attention to and their performance more generally and work on what they need to improve.

To read XpertHR’s line manager briefing, ‘Leading a flexible working team’ in full, click here.