Communication – The 3 Biggest Killers of Flexitime

by Thomas on March 23, 2011 · 0 comments

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Work as you wish: it does not matter where or when. My first experience with flexitime is that it releases a feeling of freedom, but when reality comes into play it can be quite annoying.

Most difficulties are due to communication, or the lack of it. For example, if you need to speak to a colleague who is not at work, flexitime could become disadvantageous, as you will soon realise that you need to search for new ways of dealing with the different situations that arise.

Below, we have singled-out the three most common situations, in which live communication is often inevitable.

1. Meetings

The Main Problem: having a meeting with colleagues without seeing them is often unusual, and if you are not in regular contact, then you must make sure not to draw on any private issues.

Meetings are situations which should not create any significant problems over long distances. The “50-feet rule for collocated work“ from Lipnack & Stamps states that when two business partners are sitting at a distance of more than 15 metres from each other, it does not make a difference whether one of them is located in the next building, or on a different continent.

The solution is simple: planning is everything. Technological equipment only plays a subsidiary roll if a discussion takes place via chat, video conference or telephone – it is entirely up to the preferences of the participants. However, choosing a quiet area for the meeting should be sought at all costs.

Dr. Zeitgeist’s Tip!

  • Keep private issues to a minimum!
  • Choose a quiet area! Keep in mind that the meeting could take longer than expected.

2. Training

The Main Problem: your business partner is probably sitting miles away from you making a quick, “look here, I’ll show you what I mean” very difficult.

The good news: Simulating the feeling that your business partner is sitting next to you is easy to achieve with the use of screen sharing programmes, such as, Skype. These programmes enable your colleague to view the content of your computer screen, which makes visual explanations comprehensible. The advantage: recording a video must only be carried out on one occasion, but it can be used over and over again for providing explanations and training purposes.

Dr. Zeitgeist’s Tip!

  • Recording a training video is an excellent resource that can be used for repetitive topics!

Task Allocation

The Main Problem: holding “mini-meetings“, coordinating projects, finding out employee availability and acknowledging any progress achieved are all difficult tasks to perform with flexitime and can potentially increase conflict.

Sometimes it is possible to inform others of a new task by e-mail or to deliver project up-dates. Though, in most cases, these strategies will only clutter an e-mail inbox unnecessarily. Of course, it eases communication and cooperation if you know what tasks your colleagues are currently doing or the current status of a project, but do not use your e-mail account for it. Much better methods include writing to-do lists, drawing up projects trees and project analysis, as these will help you avoid conflicts and present you with a more insightful overview of the whole project. Numerous tools available on the market can support you with many aspects of project management – our own-brand software TimeTac was developed exactly for this purpose.

Dr. Zeitgeists Tip!

  • Trust and effective means of communication in your business are the most important factors for success with flexitime.

Although, it is likely to experience communication difficulties with flexitime, these hurdles are not so problematic that they cannot be overcome. Whoever avoids problems with effective means of communication is playing on the safe side and if these were incorporated into the business culture right at the beginning, then there is no doubt that communication problems resulting from flexitime could be strongly reduced without having to use fancy technical tools.

Dr. Zeitgeist’s Tip!

  • Set out your company communication rules right at the beginning!

Do you work flexitime? How do you solve your communication problems?

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