The Three Main Concerns of Flexible Working Time Models and How to Solve Them

by Bernd on February 29, 2012 · 0 comments

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In today’s working environment, many of us benefit greatly from using software programmes similar to Microsoft Home Office, having flexible working hours and virtual teams to structure our working time model. However, such privileges are not always as beneficial to our career as they first may seem. It is a matter of fact that information and communication technologies are optimally put in place when we are informed well in advance of their possible risks and side effects. For this reason, we present you with the three biggest problems of flexible working time models and how you can best solve them.

1. Lack of Information

Suddenly there is no more coffee klatch amongst other colleagues and you find the only communication you now have is through disdainful job emails and the acceptance of work contact requests via Skype. The internet has given us the opportunity to work more flexibly at home, but studies have shown that the biggest problem employees have outside the office is the fear of not being able to ask important questions and being excluded out of the business happenings. If no counter-measures are put in force to combat these concerns, then the internal communication of a business will automatically change for the worse.

The solution: You should be precise over who informs who, when they do this and in which circumstances. It is important to revert to other sources of communication than email and instant messaging as written text can be easily misinterpreted. Regular telephone conferences are important in order to avoid misunderstandings and maintain personal relationships. Guido Hertel, Professor for organisational psychology at the University of Würzburg, emphasized in his speech with FOCUS how important face-to-face contact is for effective communication and our working environment. In reference to this he stated that, “the exchanging of information alone does not make a team”.

2. Poor Knowledge Management

One direct consequence of point 1: who does not speak will not be in the know. Passing on information to others requires a certain amount of trust and in order to build this level of trust, you need contact with others! This, however, should not hide the fact that the knowledge management in companies who function according to traditional rules are wrong to do so, just that effective knowledge management requires time and is normally expensive. The consequences of poor knowledge management within a company is often not considered carefully enough and in most cases, underestimated. It is only when an employee leaves their job that it becomes clear just how much knowledge of the business they have taken away with them.

The solution: If a company has the intention of implementing a professional knowledge management system into their business operations at a later date, then they should firstly look at measures to strengthen the trust between their employees, a way to integrate systematic saving techniques into their daily dealings, as well as examining who knows what about the company. Professional document administration programmes and internal wikis are excellent and economical ways for small businesses to store, dispense and organise data.

3. Management Vacuum

Increasing flexibility in a company increases the demands put on management. Virtual team work requires clear leadership and straightforward instructions. A swift “do that please” is mostly ineffective, receiving a reply to an email can take a considerably long time and if you are not sitting next to each other then it is difficult to know what task everybody is working on. Social and emotional deficits encourage mistakes, such as going over deadlines, not sticking to arrangements or not listening to other colleagues in team work. If you do not take these problems seriously right at the beginning, then you will soon feel the consequences, which are inefficient task management, team conflicts and total chaos.

The solution: Clear role descriptions and systematic task management are key factors. List and allocate to-do tasks with project management programmes, such as TimeTac, that enable you to see directly which task your employees are working on. Most of all, remember that flexibility can weaken the connection between colleagues and managers, but specific team building measures will maintain positive relationships and communication in your business.

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