Tackle the summer productivity slump with flexible working

Whilst stuck in the office during the summer holiday period, most employees wish they had the entire time off.

While it's not practical for most businesses to shut down over summer, there are still ways to get into the summer spirit without letting work responsibilities slip. A survey found that up to 30 per cent of workplaces offer some version of ‘Summer Fridays’, where employees have the chance to head out early to enjoy the sunshine. Whilst some managers may find this loosening of the reins daunting, many see this as a great way to boost employee engagement and productivity. Small rewards like this won’t damage work ethic or cause a trough in productivity, in fact it will make employees value their jobs and reinforce the respect they have for their management team.

Flexible working initiatives are a good way to keep employees engaged over the summer months. Flexible working can help to harmonise the work/life balance and this is even more important whilst the sun is shining. According to the Institute of Leadership and Management, 84 per cent of managers who have implemented flexible working schedules in the UK have already seen improvements in productivity, commitment, and retention of staff.

Here are a few tips to guide the implementation of a more flexible work environment and make summer your most successful season yet:

The summer test run

The summer months are an ideal time to test new flexible working initiatives and to gauge whether they should be extended throughout the year. Objectively assess your comfort level with people working from the field: does your unsettled feeling stem from a prejudice against the new system? Use the trial run as an opportunity to ask your team what they think. Together, you can find an approach that works across the board.

Set priorities

Identify important meetings and deadlines that won't budge and set priorities that clarify key projects that need to be completed and those that can wait until the physical return to the office. It’s important to remember that summer holidays are important family time that, when respected, can make employees more productive and engaged on their return.

Read between the lines

Set guidelines so your team is clear on what you expect when they're working out of the office. Establish from the get-go that this situation requires trust, then be specific about productivity, checking in, attending meetings, submitting work, and more. Make them accountable. But also respect that they’ll need to check out for part of the day. If you’re upfront about this, you’ll gain respect and win their undivided attention during the times that matter most.

Connection is key

The prevalence of free video-calling services, like FaceTime, have created a culture that's more comfortable with video calling. This trend is moving into the workforce, and the corporate world has taken note. Professional grade B2B audio, web and video conferencing technology with chat features included now keeps workers connected to the office — attending meetings, collaborating on documents, recording and sharing sessions — regardless of their location.

If you’re still on the fence, consider these industry stats: According to Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), 79 per cent of employees would like to work from home and 36 per cent would choose a work-from-home option over a pay raise.

As for adding value to businesses, GWA also state that allowing employees to telecommute even half time would save companies at least £7,000 per employee per year. When properly leveraged, summer could be one of the most productive seasons of all.

Andy Nolan, VP of Sales UK, Ireland and Northern Europe at Lifesize

Image source: Shutterstock/woaiss