About two years ago Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) implemented a flexible work policy for a majority of its professional staff. More than a work from home program, our approach is to empower employees to work where they want and when they want, using the results they produce and client responsiveness as benchmarks to evaluate performance.
For us, this has been a home run decision. I believe it has helped Strategic recruit and retain exceptional performers, establish relationships with a set of consultants who deliver tremendous value to our clients, and (most important) given each of us a healthier work/family balance.
We have also picked up a myriad of lessons learned along the way, including:
--Align the company’s business model and infrastructure (i.e. technology, office space, etc.) to be consistent with a flexible work environment.
--Identify the skill sets and personality traits a person must have to be successful in this environment, and then recruit accordingly.
--Require face-to-face interaction among client teams on a monthly basis to spur creativity and collaboration.
--Invest time and resources in professional development programs, including guest speakers, seminar attendance, book clubs, etc.
--Utilize social media as a platform to facilitate relationship building. Strategic’s Facebook fan page is a recent example (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Silver-Spring-MD/Strategic-Communications-Group/11060295377?ref=mf)
My expectation was that in time more companies would embrace a flexible work environment as a means of creating an environment in which employees are best set up for success. Imagine my surprise when I came across a recent Wall Street Journal article that reported on how a number of organizations were actually reducing the flexibility they offer employees, citing a need for greater collaboration and mentoring.
While I understand the rationale, I believe AT&T, Intel and HP are making a poor decision. Yes…it takes work, effort and investment to build culture, collaboration and mentoring in a flexible work environment.
It’s absolutely worth it though. Trust in high-quality professionals and the results are exciting.
Some Companies Rethink the Telecommuting Trend
Wall Street Journal