Especially for those in tech, the typical 9-to-5 schedule is dead. Developers are now demanding flexible schedules and remote working options. But how can a manager ensure productivity and enforce deadlines when no one is working together?
To figure out the best way to handle this new reality, I asked nine business owners from YEC the following question:
What is the best way to handle scheduling when the majority of your team works different hours (and in different locations)?
Their best answers are below:
The most cost-effective way to handle IT teams seeking flexible schedules is to make them project-based contract workers, as opposed to hourly employees. While research has indicated that those working from home typically work more hours in a week, it’s also vital to have your team plugged in during business hours. This format does not work for everyone; some employees simply can’t handle that much freedom. Devise a system that makes it clear that work needs to be completed and tie it into their pay structure so that there is little opportunity for anyone to dodge their responsibilities. – Nicole Munoz, Start Ranking Now
2. Hire People You Trust
You need to hire people who you trust will do what it takes to get the job done. I find with really trustworthy people, we never worry about hours. Also, flexibility at the margins is helpful — create a way to schedule overlap in the day so that both parties can win. Having set meetings helps a lot with creating expectations. – Zachary Johnson, Syndio
3. Communicate Your Expectations
Defining communication methods and times ensures that the project and team are on the right track. I’ve found the best approach to flex scheduling is to set up some inflexible rules. Have a schedule project sync up or scrum daily, enforce use of a text-based communication tool (like Slack or HipChat) so everyone can easily communicate synchronously or asynchronously, and make sure your team lead checks in with each team member throughout the day. By setting these well, flexible scheduling becomes an asset. Engineers will deliver more on their time versus being in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – Philippe Clavel, Rabbit
4. Offer a Rolling Start
Everyone in our company has the option to come into work on a rolling start. My employees can come into work anytime between 8 a.m and 9:30 a.m. For example, if they come in at 8 a.m., they leave at 5 p.m. In the end, there would only be an hour and a half segment where the tech team is not working together. – Jayna Cooke, EVENTup
5. Enforce Weekly Milestones
Set weekly milestones. Give them guidelines and maybe a whiteboard so they can coordinate their activities for better productivity. If they don’t reach the milestones, be clear to them that the flexible schedules go away. I don’t like to babysit and I let people be adults. I lead the process with milestones and make sure we achieve those. I just leave some flexibility in the how for my team members. – Joshua Lee, StandOut Authority
6. Set Core Hours and Communication Tools
We instituted core hours. Employees are in the office or online at least from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., outside of that they can start early or work late. That gives us at least six hours of overlapping time for engineers, and all meetings are scheduled during that time. We also make sure we have the necessary communication tools so it feels like all employees are sitting next to each other. And then most of all, we trust that everyone will get their work done or the flexibility will diminish. – Tracey Wiedmeyer, InContext Solutions
7. Separate Meeting Availability Time and Working Time
It’s a good practice to require team members to be available for meetings during office hours. You can adjust office hours based on your preference. For example, you might want a traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or you might shrink it to 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Make office time mandatory, then let team members work preferred times outside of that window. – Adam Roozen, Echidna, Inc.
8. Define Clear Roadmaps
If employees have clear goals and roadmaps, then they are less dependent upon others to do their work. This allows for flexible schedules and doesn’t require co-location and overlapping timings. For example, in software development, developers usually work in sprints where their work is clearly laid out in the form of wireframes before the sprint starts. While the sprint is going on, they have clarity about the expectations and can work quite independently without losing any productivity. – Pratham Mittal, VenturePact
9. Get Everyone Together One Day Per Week
We’ve found having Monday morning as a time where the full team convenes (either in person or remotely) to be a key for solving this challenge. These meetings set the tone for the week and keep all team members on the same page. From there, we trust our people to work with the appropriate level of urgency and meet their objectives. If anything isn’t working well, we know Monday is a time we can recalibrate. Our in-house messaging tools like Slack help with check-ins when something urgent comes up. – Ross Cohen, BeenVerified
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This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.