10 Techniques to Manage a Flexible Workforce

What is one effective technique or strategy to manage a flexible workforce?

To help you run a more flexible workforce, we asked business HR professionals and business leaders this question for their insights. From cultivating mutual respect and trust to focusing on results, there are several strategies you can use to guide a flexible workforce.

Here are 10 techniques to manage a flexible workforce:

  • Cultivate Mutual Respect and Trust
  • Be Rigid on Goals
  • Prioritize Regular Online Communication
  • Treat All Employees Equally
  • Consider Total Talent Programs
  • Empower Your Managers
  • Focus on Results
  • Define Work Modes
  • Have a System that Connects Everyone
  • Recognize and Rework Beliefs

Cultivate Mutual Respect and Trust

Managers need to trust employees and employees need to trust managers and their team members. As a manager, it's important to develop professional relationships with your team members to cultivate mutual respect and trust. You may find that some employees are more productive when working remotely. So as a manager, you want to ensure that expectations are set and communicated, and there's regular communication to keep projects on track.

Amanda Haddaway, HR Answerbox

Keep Rigid Goals

One effective strategy to managing a flexible workforce is to have very rigid goals but be flexible in everything else. When you do this effectively, you give your employees the flexibility to work the way they want, but you ensure that you are still hitting the goals you need to hit. When managing a flexible workforce, you must enforce some sort of structure, and the best way to do this is to focus on goals. As long as everyone on the team is hitting their goals, the workplace can be as flexible as it wants to be.

John Wu, Gryphon Connect

Prioritize Regular Online Communication

One effective strategy to manage a flexible workforce is emphasizing and prioritizing regular online communication, such as daily video calls with your team and weekly one-on-one meetings between employees and their managers. Casual collaboration comes naturally enough in an office environment. But with remote and hybrid work becoming the new norm in many organizations, staying in touch requires more of a deliberate effort. It’s important to maintain a sense of community and build on company culture, especially when managing a flexible workforce.

Sarah Hecht, BerniePortal

Treat All Employees Equally

Organizations that figure out how to treat all employees equally while recognizing they don’t all have to be treated the same will be most effective in managing a flexible workforce. Three key thought processes contribute to success: First, management should avoid blanket policies instead of evaluating individual roles and developing work parameters specific to each one. Second, organizations must avoid unwittingly creating “A” and “B” teams, which can happen when managers start giving better assignments to the people they see every day and not to those who are working remotely. Third, companies may need to revise processes to standardize team member interactions. For example, hold all meetings virtually, whether participants are working in-house or not, and require that everyone use the same screen background. This creates equal experiences and eliminates the side conversations that can take place when some employees are together in a meeting room and others are calling in.

Jeanette Coleman, Axcet HR Solutions

Consider Total Talent Programs

Consider a total talent program that oversees permanent hires, contingent talent, and internal mobility. Procurement, HR, and IT tend to operate in a fragmented manner when hiring workers, but collaboration between all departments is critical. Integrated talent management solutions provide HR and talent acquisition teams with a raft of data and analysis that provide the insights required to find and deliver the right talent at the right time to meet business needs. Such programs also give talent acquisition teams the opportunity to look at their entire workforces in one glance because they centralize hiring for full-time, part-time, temporary, and contingent workers. Having transparency and visibility across the entire workforce really helps to drive improved business decisions.

Lesley Taylor, WilsonHCG

Empower Your Managers

A flexible workforce puts any business into the “best place to work” category. Managing a flexible workforce, though, can be challenging. Direct the stakeholders who have the day-to-day responsibility of managing your flexible workforce to be the creators of the policy and procedures for remote work, empowering them to envision and build a successful program they will then be tasked to manage.

Tammy Cohen, InfoMart

Focus on Results

Focusing on results while offering increased flexibility is our top priority. It’s all about the freedom of action that actually comes with ownership of your own actions and final results. Finding the balance between accountability and freedom is the key to successfully managing flexible teams.

Ihor Shcherbinin, DistantJob

Have a System that Connects Everyone

Today's work environment has drastically changed over the last two years. We have seen a shift to hybrid and remote-only workplaces and that will likely not change for many businesses. Businesses must have a system that connects everyone together — not just a system for communication like Slack or Microsoft Teams, but an HR platform where employees can plan their career trajectory and collaborate with management to continuously develop. This way, there is a line of sight into where employees are and want to be from a career standpoint.

Linda Ginac, TalentGuard

Recognize and Rework Beliefs

There is a new phenomenon for the hybrid workforce that I call “officism:” a pervasive belief that remote employees are less productive, have less close relationships with managers and team members, and will be overlooked for promotions and career development opportunities. Managing a flexible workforce means recognizing these beliefs and reworking your employee experience strategy to ensure your remote and hybrid population has a stellar, equitable experience to those in the physical office.

Brett Wells, Perceptyx

Define Work Modes

Remote working has been part of our culture way before the pandemic forced other companies to do the same. We have always encouraged and empowered employees and managers to decide where to work in order to increase efficiency and productivity. This philosophy led to the development of our Work Modes. For those new to flexible working, it may be difficult to discern what tasks need to be done where. Work Modes help inform our working norms and clarify when employees need to be in the office versus at home, depending on the task.

When managing a flexible workforce, it’s important to provide guidance, so employees feel comfortable and productive to accomplish their work. Each Work Mode ultimately guides how our office or home space can be used most effectively.

Robert Hicks, Reward Gateway


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