The need for freedom is ingrained in our DNA. During the Covid pandemic it’s mostly the knowledge workers and the white collar jobs that profited from work from home/remote model. The rest of the workers who don’t fit this description such as retail employees, on-site essential personnel or IT field technicians also want more autonomy and flexibility. The need to be understanding towards an employee’s needs and his/her priorities is going to crucial in attracting and retaining talent in the coming years. Here are a few ways companies can provide a more flexible offering to non-knowledge workers.
Identify Team based flexibility areas
Analyse your team tasks and figure out how much time is really needed to complete certain task or project. Find out if there is a way the same task can be completed within a certain time, preferably in a shorter time. Communicate the task and outcome to the team then allow the employees to figure out how they wish to complete the tasks within that time frame rather than fixing it within rigid schedules and locations.
Activity based flexibility
Certain roles may appear to offer no room for change, but if one looks closely one can still find opportunities for flexibility within those roles. This can provide the much needed autonomy that employees are looking for. For instance, a tech support person’s job role states that he/she needs to be at the job site in case of some urgency but things like answering a query or being part of a team meeting can still be done remotely.
Connecting with frontline managers
Conventionally, HR leaders are responsible for solutions to provide flexible work. But HR leaders are in essence, knowledge workers, quite disconnected from managing non-knowledge workers. To find out more about the real experiences of employees and the room for flexibility they must connect with the managers who are on the frontline responsible for these employees.
Provide cross-functional training
Non-knowledge workers can be easily cross trained in various areas of expertise in an organization. It would barely require a few months of training to add a few more skills to an employee. The outcome is that they can be occasionally shift to some work that isn’t required for them to be present at the location.
The most important aspect of this process is the organizational will to make life better for its employees. The old adage of mistrust, fear of exploitation must crumble to make way for the new methods of work environment.