The 9-to-5 workday may now be a thing of the past—and good riddance! It’s time for businesses to really adjust to the fact that your remote employees aren’t working nonstop during so-called normal business hours. Fortunately, “windowed work” can boost productivity and the quality of work performed by remote employees.
What is ‘windowed work’?
Instead of constant work-related activity, remote employees can schedule blocks of time, or “windows,” that match their personal obligations, individual workflow, and most productive hours. When work windows are encouraged by management, it’s easier for teams to coordinate schedules without mismatched expectations.
Who benefits from ‘windowed work’?
Flexible schedules are popular with all demographics, but they’re particularly attractive to younger employees and working parents. With workers from 22 to 40 years old, fewer than one in four (22 percent) prefer traditional schedules. Workers over 55 are the most invested in their old routines, but a majority (61 percent) still prefer flexible over traditional schedules. As more kids attend school online, parents also value flexibility during the workday. According to one survey, 78 percent of parents (versus 66 percent of those without children) said that flexible schedules allowed them to be more productive.
Even when employees don’t have kids or major obligations during the workday, scheduled breaks to exercise, walk the dog, run errands, or just relax allow for greater focus during work hours. The household environment is full of distractions, and it’s unrealistic to expect eight or more uninterrupted hours in a row like you can in the office. The great part about windowed work is that employees can even include nighttime or early morning hours without the job becoming a 24/7 obligation. One of the biggest causes of burnout with remote work is feeling like you’re never off the clock, so employees will also be grateful for designated windows of time off work.
Here are tips to make windowed work even more effective for your remote team:
Identify power hours
Encourage your employees to find their most productive times for independent work. The night owls who routinely clocked-in late at the office may enjoy (voluntarily) pushing some of that morning work to 8 pm. Others who got up early for a long commute may be ready to work remotely at 5 am. Meetings and group work will need to be aligned, but there’s no reason to prevent remote employees from working at their most alert hours.
Coordinate using messaging, calendars, and more
With shareable calendars, email, and various messaging apps, it’s easy for managers and colleagues to see what others are working on and when. Encourage remote employees to schedule and post their work hours online so that others can know when to expect a fast response to chat and emails. When childcare and other obligations are scheduled for traditional business hours, blocking out those hours can prevent conflicts.
Keep team goals aligned
Microsoft Planner, Asana, Slack, and other team management software can be great for keeping remote teams on the same page and their collaboration seamless. It’s easy for individuals to confirm deadlines and check on the status of tasks without endless emails. When individuals work at different hours, clear communication makes it possible to relay tasks from one employee to the next.
Make communication a priority
Individual managers and team leaders will need to align check-in times with employees. Without micromanaging or scheduling unnecessary meetings (too many meetings can lead to video meeting fatigue), it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. When there hasn’t been a pattern of frequent dialogue, employees may not feel free to express when special circumstances make it difficult to meet deadlines. With employees at the office, it’s easier to observe subtle changes in appearance and behavior before a personal problem affects workplace performance. It takes a more proactive effort to support the personal and mental health of remote employees.
Clarify work and productivity expectations
Performance management for remote employees starts with clear expectations. If your employee prefers to work late at night, they may still need to be available for emergencies during the day. As remote workers become a long-term part of your business model, work with managers to set realistic standards. Emails may need to be addressed by the end of the following workday, and employees may be available for chat messaging during their scheduled work windows. During normal business hours, certain employees may need to be available to quickly respond to problems, even outside of their scheduled windows.
Continuously assess and improve process
Flexible hours and windowed work require a lot of monitoring and adjustments. Make changes to adapt your performance management process for remote teams, and solicit feedback from everyone involved. When your employees enjoy the freedom of working from home, there’s more incentive to streamline the process and make sure the changes are sustainable long-term for the business.
Netchex is the leading HCM partner helping you improve workforce management and optimizing benefits for your employees. Our powerful, yet user-friendly technology simplifies the business of HR and bring self-service features to your company to provide more independence for your team.
Talk to us to find out how to put Netchex to work for your company. Take a look at our full suite of HCM solutions that grow with your business, including payroll, HR, benefits administration, time & attendance, recruiting & onboarding, and performance management, backed by experts and the best technology in the industry.