What kind of working practices do you have in your team and management style to allow flexibility and create a flexible working culture?
Staff within LSE Careers have access to a wide range of flexible working options. These include staggered hours, time off in lieu, home working, compressed hours, annualised hours and part-time hours.
Space for improvement
During the Department Away Day in 2018, staff identified flexible working as an area in need of review. Working from home and flexi-time received considerable attention with suggestions for reconsidering the default position. The default position was based on the premise that LSE Careers is client-facing, and that much of the work should take place on the School campus. Flexible working arrangements were reviewed and approved on a case by case basis, taking into consideration the needs of the individual and those of the department. Staff also identified that flexible working arrangements varied in shape and form across the teams; therefore, good communication regarding local practices and a clear plan for managing flexible working arrangements was needed.
Flexible Working Pilot
To address this issue a flexible working group was established with representatives from each team in the department. The working group carried out research, benchmarked across Russell Group careers services and consulted staff. Based on the recommendations of the working group a three month pilot was launched to trial:
- Home working once a fortnight for all staff (excluding new staff still in their review / probation period)
- Staggered hours to allow staff to start and finish work at varying times
To ensure the success of the pilot, all staff were trained on using LSE Remote Desktop, redirecting desk phone, using Outlook calendars to indicate flexi-work schedule. A technology audit was also carried out to determine whether staff had access to a laptop/PC at home and spare laptops were made available for booking out.
Throughout the pilot staff provided anonymous feedback and were able to discuss progress openly during weekly team meetings. An end of pilot evaluation survey was carried out and helped the department review the impact of the new flexible working practices. The results were positive and evidenced the benefits of flexible working.
How do you manage staff effectively when they're working effectively and aren't necessarily all in the office at the same time?
Clear communication and guidelines are necessary to ensure that all staff are aware of how to request and manage flexible working. Managers and their teams work together to create a balanced flexible working and annual leave schedule. Outlook calendars are updated to accurately reflect where staff are (i.e. working from home, working elsewhere on campus, TOIL etc.) and phones are redirected as necessary.
By organising a series of training workshops and including flexible working as a standing agenda item for weekly meetings, it has meant managers and their teams are able to constantly review arrangements, reiterate information and quickly resolve issues.
It is also important to ensure trust is at the centre of all working relationships and flexible working practices. We have encouraged transparency, clear and open communication and have involved the entire department in designing our local flexible approach.
Why do you think having a flexible working culture is important?
By supporting a flexible working culture in the department, we have received feedback of increased staff wellbeing and job satisfaction. We recognise that work-life integration and work-life balance is important to staff and we need to create an environment that supports that. We value our staff and their contribution; we therefore, want to support a flexible work culture because it makes our staff happy, boosts productivity and fosters a climate of trust.