The times are changing and the need to take action comes through crystal clear in a recent FCW article, which states that the “expansion of shared services and reductions in workforce are expected to feature prominently in the White House’s plan to reorganize the federal government, but agencies may need some legislative help to fully implement their proposals.”

According to Scott Cameron, the interior department’s principal deputy assistant secretary, being “more responsive to the needs of employees, more responsive to the president’s direction in terms of reshaping the workforce,” is an opportunity. Understandably the most progressive government agencies are recognizing that the workforce reductions and restructuring represent an opportunity to leverage flexible work environments.

As agencies/organizations explore flexible work options, it’s important to consider the best practices to assure a smooth and sustainable transition.  This post from Remote.co provides some key observations existing across the board when organizations successfully embrace remote work. For instance, flexibility, the right technology and the use of intentional communication are key components to a successful remote or flexible work environment.

 

Demonstrate consistent flexibility.

Productivity and efficiency are always the goal. Of course, as many have realized this means being flexible when determining work environments.

But flexibility can’t be a special treat for some and not for others. You need to offer it to everyone. If someone’s job can’t be done remotely, tweak it so it can be. Make everyone feel trusted. This will allow your staff to feel engaged. And remember…don’t take away choices or force anything. If possible, give everyone the ability to choose how or where they can most successfully get their work done.”

 

Embrace and deploy the necessary technology.

It is crucial to empower the workforce if you want a flexible work environment to produce desired outcomes. This starts with access to the right tools and platforms that offer employees what they need to perform most efficiently.  The goal should be to enable employees to seamless operate as if they are in the office with instant access to files as well as possessing the ability to collaborate with coworkers or other departments.

As the Remote.co article discusses, these same collaboration tools are instrumental in facilitating the type of interactions that workers desire when building upon that work culture.  “The spontaneous engagement they miss when they’re not in an office; efficient communication; etc. But remember, the shiniest and most expensive tools aren’t always the best option! Also, be sure to limit the number of tools you use, but offer some options. You don’t want to assume one-size-fits-all when it comes to technology.”

 

Remember that consistent communication is king.

Open and active communications are always instrumental when building and nurturing the type of work relationships that prompt understanding and productivity. However, when people communicate well in a remote environment, work gets done. It affords an opportunity to build rapport and respect.

“Everyone in the organization also needs to be intentional about how often they are communicating—and there should be some guidelines and expectations around communication. And finally, you should be intentional about varying the medium. Don’t get into a rut and only use one form of communication. Think about what you’re trying to achieve and what medium is most appropriate for the conversation. For instance, if you’re having a conflict, don’t email—pick up the phone.”

 

Bottom line: flexible work represents an opportunity for federal agencies and other organizations to keep key staffers in the fold. However, success requires a strategy that leverages best practices, while empowering workers to get the job done.