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Develop a Targeted Flexible Work Program for IT

Select flexible work options that balance organizational and employee needs to drive engagement and improve attraction and retention.

  • Workplace flexibility continues to be top priority for IT employees. Organizations who fail to offer flexibility will have a difficult time attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent.
  • When the benefits of remote work are not available to everyone, this raises fairness and equity concerns.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

IT excels at hybrid location work and is more effective as a business function when location flexibility is an option for its employees. But hybrid work is just a start. A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location, so organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent.

Impact and Result

  • Uncover the needs of unique employee segments to shortlist flexible work options that employees want and will use.
  • Assess the feasibility of various flexible work options and select ones that meet employee needs and are feasible for the organization.
  • Equip leaders with the information and tools needed to implement and sustain a flexible work program.

Develop a Targeted Flexible Work Program for IT Research & Tools

1. Assess employee and organizational flexibility needs

Identify prioritized employee segments, flexibility challenges, and the desired state to inform program goals.

2. Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility

Review, shortlist, and assess the feasibility of common types of flexible work. Identify implementation issues and cultural barriers.

3. Implement selected option(s)

Equip managers and employees to adopt flexible work options while addressing implementation issues and cultural barriers and aligning HR programs.


Member Testimonials

After each Info-Tech experience, we ask our members to quantify the real-time savings, monetary impact, and project improvements our research helped them achieve. See our top member experiences for this blueprint and what our clients have to say.

9.0/10


Overall Impact

$18,909


Average $ Saved

13


Average Days Saved

Client

Experience

Impact

$ Saved

Days Saved

Werner Co.

Guided Implementation

9/10

$12,399

5

Reiter Affiliated Companies

Guided Implementation

10/10

$25,419

20

British Columbia Institute of Technology

Guided Implementation

8/10

N/A

3

AgCountry Farm Credit Services

Guided Implementation

9/10

$12,399

2


Workshop: Develop a Targeted Flexible Work Program for IT

Workshops offer an easy way to accelerate your project. If you are unable to do the project yourself, and a Guided Implementation isn't enough, we offer low-cost delivery of our project workshops. We take you through every phase of your project and ensure that you have a roadmap in place to complete your project successfully.

Module 1: Prepare to Assess Flex Work Feasibility

The Purpose

Gather information on organizational and employee flexibility needs.

Key Benefits Achieved

Understand the flexibility needs of the organization and its employees to inform a targeted flex work program.

Activities

Outputs

1.1

Identify employee and organizational needs.

  • Organizational context summary
1.2

Identify employee segments.

1.3

Establish program goals and metrics.

1.4

Shortlist flexible work options.

  • List of shortlisted flex work options

Module 2: Assess Flex Work Feasibility

The Purpose

Perform a data-driven feasibility analysis on shortlisted work options.

Key Benefits Achieved

A data-driven feasibility analysis ensures your flex work program meets its goals.

Activities

Outputs

2.1

Conduct employee/manager focus groups to assess feasibility of flex work options.

  • Summary of flex work options feasibility per employee segment

Module 3: Finalize Flex Work Options

The Purpose

Select the most impactful flex work options and create a plan for addressing implementation challenge

Key Benefits Achieved

A data-driven selection process ensures decisions and exceptions can be communicated with full transparency.

Activities

Outputs

3.1

Finalize list of approved flex work options.

  • Final list of flex work options
3.2

Brainstorm solutions to implementation issues.

  • Implementation barriers and solutions summary
3.3

Identify how to overcome cultural barriers.

Module 4: Prepare for Implementation

The Purpose

Create supporting materials to ensure program implementation proceeds smoothly.

Key Benefits Achieved

Employee- and manager-facing guides and policies ensure the program is clearly documented and communicated.

Activities

Outputs

4.1

Design employee and manager guide prototype.

  • Employee and manager guide to flexible work
4.2

Align HR programs and policies to support flexible work.

4.3

Create a communication plan.

  • Flex work roadmap and communication plan

Module 5: Next Steps and Wrap-Up

The Purpose

Put everything together and prepare to implement.

Key Benefits Achieved

Our analysts will support you in synthesizing the workshop’s efforts into a cohesive implementation strategy.

Activities

Outputs

5.1

Complete in-progress deliverables from previous four days.

  • Completed flexible work feasibility workbook
  • Flexible work communication plan
5.2

Set up review time for workshop deliverables and to discuss next steps.


Develop a Targeted Flexible Work Program for IT

Select flexible work options that balance organizational and employee needs to drive engagement and improve attraction and retention.

Executive Summary

Your Challenge

  • IT leaders continue to struggle with workplace flexibility, and it is a top priority for IT employees; as a result, organizations who fail to offer flexibility will have a difficult time attracting, recruiting, and retaining talent.
  • The benefits of remote work are not available to everyone, raising fairness and equity concerns for employees.

Common Obstacles

  • A one-size-fits-all approach to selecting and implementing flexible work options fails to consider unique employee needs and will not reap the benefits of offering a flexible work program (e.g. higher engagement or enhanced employer brand).
  • Improper structure and implementation of flexible work programs exacerbates existing challenges (e.g. high turnover) or creates new ones.

Info-Tech's Approach

  • Uncover the needs of unique employee segments to shortlist flexible work options that employees want and will use.
  • Assess the feasibility of various flexible work options and select ones that meet employee needs and are feasible for the organization.
  • Equip leaders with the information and tools needed to implement and sustain a flexible work program.

Info-Tech Insight

IT excels at hybrid location work and is more effective as a business function when location flexibility is an option for its employees. But hybrid work is just a start. A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location, so organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent.

Flexible work arrangements are a requirement in today's world of work

Flexible work continues to gain momentum…

A 2022 LinkedIn report found that the following occurred between 2019 and 2021:

+362%

Increase in LinkedIn members sharing content with the term "flexible work."

+83%

Increase in job postings that mention "flexibility."
(LinkedIn, 2022)

In 2022, Into-Tech found that hybrid was the most commonly used location work model for IT across all industries.

("State of Hybrid Work in IT," Info-Tech Research Group, 2022)

…and employees are demanding more flexibility

90%

of employees said they want schedule and location flexibility ("Global Employee Survey," EY, 2021).

17%

of resigning IT employees cited lack of flexible work options as a reason ("IT Talent Trends 2022," Info-Tech Research Group, 2022).

71%

of executives said they felt "pressure to change working models and adapt workplace policies to allow for greater flexibility" (LinkedIn, 2021).

Therefore, organizations who fail to offer flexibility will be left behind

Difficulty attracting and retaining talent

98% of IT employees say flexible work options are important in choosing an employer ("IT Talent Trends 2022," Info-Tech Research Group, 2022).

Worsening employee wellbeing and burnout

Knowledge workers with minimal to no schedule flexibility are 2.2x more likely to experience work-related stress and are 1.4x more likely to suffer from burnout (Slack, 2022; N=10,818).

Offering workplace flexibility benefits organizations and employees

Higher performance

IT departments that offer some degree of location flexibility are more effective at supporting the organization than those who do not.

35% of service desk functions report improved service since implementing location flexibility.
("State of Hybrid Work in IT," Info-Tech Research Group, 2023).

Enhanced employer brand

Employees are 2.1x more likely to recommend their employer to others when they are satisfied with their organization's flexible work arrangements (LinkedIn, 2021).

Improved attraction

41% of IT departments cite an expanded hiring pool as a key benefit of hybrid work.

Organizations that mention "flexibility" in their job postings have 35% more engagement with their posts (LinkedIn, 2022).

Increased job satisfaction

IT employees who have more control over their working arrangement experience a greater sense of contribution and trust in leadership ("State of Hybrid Work in IT," Info-Tech Research Group, 2023).

Better work-life balance

81% of employees say flexible work will positively impact their work-life balance (FlexJobs, 2021).

Boosted inclusivity

  • Caregivers regardless of gender, supporting them in balancing responsibilities
  • Individuals with disabilities, enabling them to work from the comfort of their homes
  • Women who may have increased responsibilities
  • Women of color to mitigate the emotional tax experienced at work

Info-Tech Insight

Flexible work options are not a concession to lower productivity. Properly implemented, flex work enables employees to be more productive at reaching business goals.

Despite the popularity of flexible work options, not all employees can participate

IT organizations differ on how much flexibility different roles can have.

IT employees were asked what percentage of IT roles were currently in a hybrid or remote work arrangement ("State of Hybrid Work in IT," Info-Tech Research Group, 2023).

However, the benefits of remote work are not available to all, which raises fairness and equity concerns between remote and onsite employees.

45%

of employers said, "one of the biggest risks will be their ability to establish fairness and equity among employees when some jobs require a fixed schedule or location, creating a 'have and have not' dynamic based on roles" ("Businesses Suffering," EY, 2021).

Offering schedule flexibility to employees who need to be fully onsite can be used to close the fairness and equity gap.

When offered the choice, 54% of employees said they would choose schedule flexibility over location flexibility ("Global Employee Survey," EY, 2021).

When employees were asked "What choice would you want your employer to provide related to when you have to work?" The top three choices were:

68%

Flexibility on when to start and finish work

38%

Compressed or four-day work weeks

33%

Fixed hours (e.g. 9am to 5pm)

Disclaimer: "Percentages do not sum to 100%, as each respondent could choose up to three of the [five options provided]" ("Global Employee Survey," EY, 2021).

Beware of the "all or nothing" approach

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to workplace flexibility.

Understanding the needs of various employee segments in the organization is critical to the success of a flexible work program.

Working parents want more flexibility

82%

of working mothers desire flexibility in where they work.

48%

of working fathers "want to work remotely 3 to 5 days a week."

Historically underrepresented groups value more flexibility

38%

"Thirty-eight percent of Black male employees and 33% of Black female employees would prefer a fully flexible schedule, compared to 25% of white female employees and 26% of white male employees."
(Slack, 2022; N=10,818)

33%

Workplace flexibility must be customized to the organization to avoid longer working hours and heavy workloads that impact employee wellbeing

84%

of remote workers and 61% of onsite workers reported working longer hours post pandemic. Longer working hours were attributed to reasons such as pressure from management and checking emails after working hours (Indeed, 2021).

2.6x

Respondents who either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement "Generally, I find my workload reasonable" were 2.6x more likely to be engaged compared to those who stated they disagreed or strongly disagreed (McLean & Company Engagement Survey Database;2022; N=5,615 responses).

Longer hours and unsustainable workloads can contribute to stress and burnout, which is a threat to employee engagement and retention. With careful management (e.g. setting clear expectations and establishing manageable workloads), flexible work arrangement benefits can be preserved.

Info-Tech Insight

Employees' lived experiences and needs determine if people use flexible work programs – a flex program that has limited use or excludes people will not benefit the organization.

Develop a flexible work program that meets employee and organizational needs

This is an image of a sample flexible work program which meets employee and organizational needs.

Insight summary

Overarching insight: IT excels at hybrid location work and is more effective as a business function when location, time, and time-off flexibility are an option for its employees.

Introduction

Step 1 insight

Step 2 insight

Step 3 insight

  • Flexible work options are not a concession to lower productivity. Properly implemented, flex work enables employees to be more productive at reaching business goals.
  • Employees' lived experiences and needs determine if people use flexible work programs – a flex program that has limited use or excludes people will not benefit the organization.
  • Flexible work benefits everyone. IT employees experience greater engagement, motivation, and company loyalty. IT organizations realize benefits such as better service coverage, reduced facilities costs, and increased productivity.
  • Hybrid work is a start. A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location to flexible time and time off. Organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent. Provide greater inclusivity to employees by broadening the scope to include flex location, flex time, and flex time off.
  • No two employee segments are the same. To be effective, flexible work options must align with the expectations and working processes of each segment.
  • Every role is eligible for hybrid location work. If onsite work duties prevent an employee group from participating, see if processes can be digitized or automated. Flexible work is an opportunity to go beyond current needs to future proofing your organization.
  • Flexible work options must balance organizational and employee needs. If an option is beneficial to employees but there is little or no benefit to the organization, or if the cost of the option is too high, it will not support the long-term success of the organization.
  • Prioritize flexible work options that employees want. Providing too many options often leads to information overload and results in employees not understanding what is available, lowering adoption of the flexible work program.
  • Leaders' collective support of the flexible program determines the program's successful adoption. Don't sweep cultural barriers under the rug; acknowledge and address them to overcome them.
  • Negative performance of a flexible work option does not necessarily mean failure. Take the time to evaluate whether the option simply needs to be tweaked or whether it truly isn't working for the organization.
  • A set of formal guidelines for IT ensures flexible work is:
    1. Administered fairly across all IT employees.
    2. Defensible and clear.
    3. Scalable to the rest of the organization.

Case Study

Expanding hybrid work at Info-Tech

Challenge

In 2020, Info-Tech implemented emergency work-from-home for its IT department, along with the rest of the organization. Now in 2023, hybrid work is firmly embedded in Info-Tech's culture, with plans to continue location flexibility for the foreseeable future.

Adjusting to the change came with lessons learned and future-looking questions.

Lessons Learned

Moving into remote work was made easier by certain enablers that had already been put in place. These included issuing laptops instead of desktops to the user base and using an existing cloud-based infrastructure. Much support was already being done remotely, making the transition for the support teams virtually seamless.

Continuing hybrid work has brought benefits such as reduced commuting costs for employees, higher engagement, and satisfaction among staff that their preferences were heard.

Looking Forward

Every flexible work implementation is a work in progress and must be continually revisited to ensure it continues to meet organizational and employee needs. Current questions being explored at Info-Tech are:

  • The concept of the "office as a tool" – how does use of the office change when it is used for specific collaboration-related tasks, rather than everything? How should the physical space change to support this?
  • What does a viable replacement for quick hallway meetings look like in a remote world where communication is much more deliberate? How can managers adjust their practices to ensure the benefits of informal encounters aren't lost?

Info-Tech offers various levels of support to best suit your needs

DIY Toolkit

“Our team has already made this critical project a priority, and we have the time and capability, but some guidance along the way would be helpful.”

Guided Implementation

“Our team knows that we need to fix a process, but we need assistance to determine where to focus. Some check-ins along the way would help keep us on track.”

Workshop

“We need to hit the ground running and get this project kicked off immediately. Our team has the ability to take this over once we get a framework and strategy in place.”

Consulting

“Our team does not have the time or the knowledge to take this project on. We need assistance through the entirety of this project.”

Diagnostics and consistent frameworks used throughout all four options

Guided Implementation

What does a typical GI on this topic look like?

Preparation

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Follow-up

Call #1: Scope requirements, objectives, and your specific challenges.

Call #2: Assess employee and organizational needs.

Call #3: Shortlist flex work options and assess feasibility.

Call #4: Finalize flex work options and create rollout plan.

Call #5: (Optional) Review rollout progress or evaluate pilot success.

A Guided Implementation (GI) is a series of calls with an Info-Tech analyst to help implement our best practices in your organization.

A typical GI is 3 to 5 calls over the course of 4 to 6 months.

Workshop Overview

Contact your account representative for more information.
workshops@infotech.com 1-888-670-8889

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Activities

Prepare to assess flex work feasibility

Assess flex work feasibility

Finalize flex work options

Prepare for implementation

Next Steps and Wrap-Up (offsite)

1.1 Identify employee and organizational needs.

1.2 Identify employee segments.

1.3 Establish program goals and metrics.

1.4 Shortlist flex work options.

2.1 Conduct employee/manager focus groups to assess feasibility of flex work options.

3.1 Finalize list of approved flex work options.

3.2 Brainstorm solutions to implementation issues.

3.2 Identify how to overcome cultural barriers.

4.1 Design employee and manager guide prototype.

4.2 Align HR programs and policies to support flexible work.

4.3 Create a communication plan.

5.1 Complete in-progress deliverables from previous four days.

5.2 Set up review time for workshop deliverables and to discuss next steps.

Deliverables

  1. Organizational context summary
  2. List of shortlisted flex work options
  1. Summary of flex work options' feasibility per employee segment
  1. 1.Final list of flex work options
  2. 2.Implementation barriers and solutions summary
  1. Employee and manager guide to flexible work
  2. Flex work roadmap and communication plan
  1. Completed flexible work feasibility workbook
  2. Flexible work communication plan

Step 1

Assess employee and organizational needs

1. Assess employee and organizational flexibility needs
2. Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility
3. Implement selected option(s)

After completing this step you will have:

  • Identified key stakeholders and their responsibilities
  • Uncovered the current and desired state of the organization
  • Analyzed feedback to identify flexibility challenges
  • Identified and prioritized employee segments
  • Determined the program goals
  • Identified the degree of flexibility for work location, timing, and deliverables

Identify key stakeholders

Organizational flexibility requires collaborative and cross-functional involvement to determine which flexible options will meet the needs of a diverse workforce. HR leads the project to explore flexible work options, while other stakeholders provide feedback during the identification and implementation processes.

HR

  • Assist with the design, implementation, and maintenance of the program.
  • Provide managers and employees with guidance to establish successful flexible work arrangements.
  • Help develop communications to launch and maintain the program.

Senior Leaders

  • Champion the project by modeling and promoting flexible work options
  • Help develop and deliver communications; set the tone for flexible work at the organization.
  • Provide input into determining program goals.

Managers

  • Model flexible work options and encourage direct reports to request and discuss options.
  • Use flexible work program guidelines to work with direct reports to select suitable flexible work options.
  • Develop performance metrics and encourage communication between flexible and non-flexible workers.

Flexible Workers

  • Indicate preferences of flexible work options to the manager.
  • Identify ways to maintain operational continuity and communication while working flexibly.
  • Flag issues and suggest improvements to the manager.
  • Develop creative ways to work with colleagues who don't work flexibly.

Non-Flexible Workers

  • Share feedback on issues with flexible arrangements and their impact on operational continuity.

Info-Tech Insight

Flexible work is a holistic team effort. Leaders, flexible workers, teammates, and HR must clearly understand their roles to ensure that teams are set up for success.

Uncover the current and desired state of flexibility in the organization

Current State

Target State

Review:

  • Existing policies related to flexibility (e.g. vacation, work from anywhere)
  • Existing flexibility programs (e.g. seasonal hours) and their uptake
  • Productivity of employees
  • Current culture at the organization. Look for:
    • Employee autonomy
    • Reporting structure and performance management processes
    • Trust and psychological safety of employees
    • Leadership behavior (e.g. do leaders model work-life balance, or does the organization have a work 24/7 mentality?)

Identify what is driving the need for flexible work options. Ask:

  • Why does the organization need flexible options?
    • For example, the introduction of flexibility for some employees has created a "have and have not" dynamic between roles that must be addressed.
  • What does the organization hope to gain from implementing flexible options? For example:
    • Improved retention
    • Increased attraction, remaining competitive for talent
    • Increased work-life balance for employees
    • Reduced burnout
  • What does the organization aspire to be?
    • For example, an organization that creates an environment that values output, not face time.

These drivers identify goals for the organization to achieve through targeted flexible work options.

Info-Tech Insight

Hybrid work is a start. A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location, so organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent. Provide greater inclusivity to employees by broadening the scope to include flex location, flex time, and flex time off.

Identify employee segments

Using the data, feedback, and challenges analyzed and uncovered so far, assess the organization and identify employee segments.

Identify employee segments with common characteristics to assess if they require unique flexible work options. Assess the feasibility options for the segments separately in Step 2.

  • Segments' unique characteristics include:
    • Role responsibilities (e.g. interacting with users, creating reports, development and testing)
    • Work location/schedule (e.g. geographic, remote vs. onsite, 9 to 5)
    • Work processes (e.g. server maintenance, phone support)
    • Group characteristics (e.g. specific teams, new hires)

Identify employee segments and sort them into groups based on the characteristics above.

Examples of segments:

  • Functional area (e.g. Service Desk, Security)
  • Job roles (e.g. desktop support, server maintenance)
  • Onsite, remote, or hybrid
  • Full-time or part-time
  • Job level (e.g. managers vs. independent contributors)
  • Employees with dependents

Prioritize employee segments

Determine whether the organization needs flexible work options for the entire organization or specific employee segments.
For specific employee segments:

  • Answer the questions on the right to identify whether an employee segment is high, medium, or low priority. Complete slides 23 to 25 for each high-priority segment, repeating the process for medium-priority segments when resources allow.

For the entire organization:

  • When identifying an option for the entire organization, consider all segments. The approach must create consistency and inclusion; keep this top of mind when identifying flexibility on slides 23 to 25. For example, the work location flexibility would be low in an organization where some segments can work remotely and others must be onsite due to machinery requirements.

High priority: The employee segment has the lowest engagement scores or highest turnover within the organization. Segment sentiment is that current flexibility is nonexistent or not sufficiently meeting needs.
Medium priority: The employee segment has low engagement or high turnover. Segment sentiment is that currently available flexibility is minimal or not sufficiently meeting needs.
Low priority: The segment does not have the lowest engagement or the highest turnover rate. Segment sentiment is that currently available flexibility is sufficiently meeting needs.

  1. What is the impact on the organization if this segment's challenges aren't addressed (e.g. if low engagement and high turnover are not addressed)?
  2. How critical is flexibility to the segment's needs/engagement?
  3. How time sensitive is it to introduce flexibility to this segment (e.g. is the organization losing employees in this segment at a high rate)?
  4. Will providing flexibility to this segment increase organizational productivity or output

Identify challenges to address with flexibility

Uncover the lived experiences and expectations of employees to inform selection of segments and flexible options.

  1. Collect data from existing sources, such as:
    • Engagement surveys
    • New hire/exit surveys
    • Employee experience monitor surveys
    • Employee retention pulse surveys
    • Burnout surveys
    • DEI pulse surveys
  2. Analyze employee feedback on experiences with:
    • Work duties
    • Workload
    • Work-life balance
    • Operating processes and procedures
    • Achieving operational outcomes
    • Collaboration and communication
    • Individual experience and engagement
  3. Evaluate the data and identify challenges

Example challenges:

  • Engagement: Low average score on work-life balance question; flexible work suggested in open-ended responses.
  • Retention: Exit survey indicating that lack of work-life balance is consistently a reason employees leave. Include the cost of turnover (e.g. recruitment, training, severance).
  • Burnout: Feedback from employees through surveys or HR business partner anecdotes indicating high burnout; high usage of wellness services or employee assistance programs.
  • Absenteeism: High average number of days employees were absent in the past year. Include the cost of lost productivity.
  • Operational continuity: Provide examples of when flexible work would have enabled operational continuity in the case of disaster or extended customer service coverage.
  • Program uptake: If the organization already has a flexible work program, provide data on the low proportion of eligible employees using available options.

1.1 Prepare to evaluate flexible work options

1-3 hours

Follow the guidance on preceding slides to complete the following activities.
Note: If you are only considering remote or hybrid work, use the Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook. Otherwise, proceed with the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook.

  1. Identify key stakeholders. Be sure to record the level of involvement and responsibility expected from each stakeholder. Use the "Stakeholders" tab of the workbook.
  2. Uncover current and desired state. Review and record your current state with respect to culture, productivity, and current flexible work options, if any. Next, record your desired future state, including reasons for implementing flexible work, and goals for the program. Record this in the "Current and Desired State" tab of the workbook.
  3. Identify and prioritize employee segments. Identify and record employee segments. Depending on the size of your department, you may identify a few or many. Be as granular as necessary to fully separate employee groups with different needs. If your resources or needs prevent you from rolling out flexible work to the entire department, record the priority level of each segment so you can focus on the highest priority first.
  4. Identify challenges with flexibility. With each employee segment in mind, analyze your available data to identify and record each segment's main challenges regarding flexible work. These will inform your program goals and metrics.

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Download the Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Input

  • List of departmental roles
  • Data on employee engagement, productivity, sentiment regarding flexible work, etc.

Output

  • List of stakeholders and responsibilities
  • Flexible work challenges and aims
  • Prioritized list of employee segments

Materials

  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook
    Or
  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • IT department head
  • HR business partner
  • Flexible work program committee

Determine goals and metrics for the flexible work program

Sample program goals

Sample metrics

Increase productivity

  • Employee, team, and department key performance indicators (KPIs) before and after flexible work implementation
  • Absenteeism rate (% of lost working days due to all types of absence)

Improve business satisfaction and perception of IT value

Increase retention

  • % of exiting employees who cite lack of flexible work options or poor work-life balance as a reason they left
  • Turnover and retention rates

Improve the employee value proposition (EVP) and talent attraction

  • # of responses on the new hire survey where flexible work options or work-life balance are cited as a reason for accepting an employment offer
  • # of views of career webpage that mentions flexible work program
  • Time-to-fill rates

Improve engagement and work-life balance

  • Overall engagement score – deploy Info-Tech's Employee Engagement Diagnostics
  • Score for questions about work-life balance on employee engagement or pulse survey, including:
    • "I am able to maintain a balance between my work and personal life."
    • "I find my stress levels at work manageable."

Info-Tech Insight

Implementing flex work without solid performance metrics means you won't have a way of determining whether the program is enabling or hampering your business practices.

1.2 Determine goals and metrics

30 minutes

Use the examples on the preceding slide to identify program goals and metrics:

  1. Brainstorm program goals. Be sure to consider both the business benefits (e.g. productivity, retention) and the employee benefits (work-life balance, engagement). A successful flexible work program benefits both the organization and its employees.
  2. Brainstorm metrics for each goal. Identify metrics that are easy to track accurately. Use Info-Tech's IT and HR metrics libraries for reference. Ideally, the metrics you choose should already exist in your organization so no extra effort will be necessary to implement them. It is also important to have a baseline measure of each one before flexible work is rolled out.
  3. Record your outputs on the "Goals and Metrics" tab of the workbook.

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Download the IT Metrics Library

Download the HR Metrics Library

Input

  • Organizational and departmental strategy

Output

  • List of program goals and metrics

Materials

  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook
    Or
  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee

Determine work location flexibility for priority segments

Work location looks at where a segment can complete all or some of their tasks (e.g. onsite vs. remote). For each prioritized employee segment, evaluate the amount of location flexibility available.

Work Duties

Processes

Operational Outcomes

High degree of flexibility

  • Low dependence on onsite equipment
  • Work easily shifts to online platforms
  • Low dependence on onsite external interactions (e.g. clients, customers, vendors)
  • Low interdependence of work duties internally (most work is independent)
  • Work processes and expectations are or can be formally documented
  • Remote work processes are sustainable long term

Most or all operational outcomes can be achieved offsite (e.g. products/service delivery not impacted by WFH)

  • Some dependence on onsite equipment
  • Some work can shift to online platforms
  • Some dependence on onsite external interactions
  • Some interdependence of work duties internally (collaboration is critical)
  • Most work processes and expectations have been or can be formally documented
  • Remote work processes are sustainable (e.g. workarounds can be supported and didn't add work)

Some operational outcomes can be achieved offsite (e.g. some impact of WFH on product/service delivery)

Low degree of flexibility

  • High dependence on onsite equipment
  • Work cannot shift to online platforms
  • High dependence on onsite external interactions
  • High interdependence of work duties internally (e.g. line work)
  • Few work processes and expectations can be formally documented
  • Work processes cannot be done remotely, and workarounds for remote work are not sustainable long term

Operational outcomes cannot be achieved offsite (e.g. significant impairment to product/service delivery)

Note

If roles within the segment have differing levels of location flexibility, use the lowest results (e.g. if role A in the segment has a high degree of flexibility for work duties and role B has a low degree of flexibility, use the results for role B).

Identify work timing for priority segments

Work timing looks at when work can or needs to be completed (e.g. Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).

Work Duties

Processes

Operational Outcomes

High degree of flexibility

  • No need to be available to internal and/or external customers during standard work hours
  • Equipment is available at any time
  • Does not rely on synchronous (occurring at the same time) work duties internally
  • Work processes and expectations are or can be formally documented
  • Low reliance on collaboration
  • Work is largely asynchronous (does not occur at the same time)

Most or all operational outcomes are not time sensitive

  • Must be available to internal and/or external customers during some standard work hours
  • Some reliance on synchronous work duties internally (collaboration is critical)
  • Most work processes and expectations have been or can be formally documented
  • Moderate reliance on collaboration
  • Some work is synchronous

Some operational outcomes are time sensitive and must be conducted within set date or time windows

Low degree of flexibility

  • Must be available to internal and/or external customers during all standard work hours (e.g. Monday to Friday 9 to 5)
  • High reliance on synchronous work duties internally (e.g. line work)
  • Few work processes and expectations can be formally documented
  • High reliance on collaboration
  • Most work is synchronous

Most or all operational outcomes are time sensitive and must be conducted within set date or time windows

Note

With additional coordination, flex time or flex time off options are still possible for employee segments with a low degree of flexibility. For example, with a four-day work week, the segment can be split into two teams – one that works Monday to Thursday and one that works Tuesday to Friday – so that employees are still available for clients five days a week.

Examine work deliverables for priority segments

Work deliverables look at the employee's ability to deliver on their role expectations (e.g. quota or targets) and whether reducing the time spent working would, in all situations, impact the work deliverables (e.g. constrained vs. unconstrained).

Work Duties

Operational Outcomes

High degree of flexibility

  • Few or no work duties rely on equipment or processes that put constraints on output (unconstrained output)
  • Employees have autonomy over which work duties they focus on each day
  • Most or all operational outcomes are unconstrained (e.g. a marketing analyst who builds reports and strategies for clients can produce more reports, produce better reports, or identify new strategies)
  • Work quota or targets are achievable even if working fewer hours
  • Some work duties rely on equipment or processes that put constraints on output
  • Employees have some ability to decide which work duties they focus on each day
  • Some operational outcomes are constrained or moderately unconstrained (e.g. an analyst build reports based on client data; while it's possible to find efficiencies and build reports faster, it's not possible to attain the client data any faster)
  • Work quota or targets may be achievable if working fewer hours

Low degree of flexibility

  • Most or all work duties rely on equipment or processes that put constraints on output (constrained output)
  • Daily work duties are prescribed (e.g. a telemarketer is expected to call a set number of people per day using a set list of contacts and a defined script)
  • Most or all operational outcomes are constrained (e.g. a machine operator works on a machine that produces 100 parts an hour; neither the machine nor the worker can produce more parts)
  • Work quota or targets cannot be achieved if fewer hours are worked

Note

For segments with a low degree of work deliverable flexibility (e.g. very constrained output), flexibility is still an option, but maintaining output would require additional headcount.

1.3 Determine flexibility needs and constraints

1-2 hours

Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to document the parameters of each work segment.

  1. Determine work location flexibility. Work location looks at where a segment can complete all or some of their tasks (e.g. onsite vs. remote). For each prioritized employee segment, evaluate the amount of location flexibility available.
  2. Identify work timing. Work timing looks at when work can or needs to be completed (e.g. Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm).
  3. Examine work deliverables. Work deliverables look at the employee's ability to deliver on their role expectations (e.g. quota or targets) and whether reducing the time spent working would, in all situations, impact the work deliverables (e.g. constrained vs. unconstrained).
  4. Record your outputs on the "Current and Desired State" tab of the workbook.

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Input

  • List of employee segments

Output

  • Summary of flexibility needs and constraints for each employee segment

Materials

  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook
    Or
  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee
  • Employee segment managers

Step 2

Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility

1. Assess employee and organizational flexibility needs
2. Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility
3. Implement selected option(s)

After completing this step you will have:

  • Created a shortlist of potential options for each prioritized employee segment
  • Evaluated the feasibility of each potential option
  • Determined the cost and benefit of each potential option
  • Gathered employee sentiment on potential options
  • Finalized options with senior leadership

Prepare to identify and assess the feasibility of potential flexible work options

First, review the Flexible Work Solutions Catalog

Before proceeding to the next slide, review the Flexible Work Options Catalog to identify and shortlist five to seven flexible work options that are best suited to address the challenges faced for each of the priority employee segments identified in Step 1.

Then, assess the feasibility of implementing selected options using slides 29 to 32

Assess the feasibility of implementing the shortlisted solutions for the prioritized employee segments against the feasibility factors in this step. Repeat for each employee segment. Use the following slides to consult with and include leaders when appropriate.

  • Document your analysis in tabs 6 to 8 of the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook.
  • Note implementation issues throughout the assessment and record them in the tool. They will be addressed in Step 3: Implement Selected Program(s). Don't rule out an option simply because it presents some challenges; careful implementation can overcome many challenges.
  • At the end of this step, determine the final list of flexible work options and gain approval from senior leaders for implementation.

Evaluate feasibility by reviewing the option's impact on continued operations and job performance

Operational coverage

Synchronous communication

Time zones

Face-to-face

communication

To what extent are employees needed to deliver products or services?

  • If constant customer service is required, stagger employees' schedules (e.g. one team works Monday-Thursday while another works Tuesday-Friday).

To what extent do employees need to communicate with each other synchronously?

  • Break the workflow down and identify times when employees do and do not have to work at the same time to communicate with each other.

To what extent do employees need to coordinate work across time zones?

  • If the organization already operates in different time zones, ensure that the option does not impact operations requiring continuous coverage.
  • When employees are located in different time zones, coordinate schedules based on the other operational factors.

When do employees need to interact with each other or clients in person?

  • Examine the workflow closely to identify times when face-to-face communication is not required. Schedule "office days" for employees to work together when in-person interaction is needed.
  • When the interaction is only required with clients, determine whether employees are able to meet clients offsite.

Info-Tech Insight

Every role is eligible for hybrid location work. If onsite work duties prevent an employee group from participating, see if processes can be digitized or automated. Flexible work is an opportunity to go beyond current needs to future-proof your organization.

Assess the option's alignment with organizational culture

Symbols

Values

Behaviors

How supportive of flexible work are the visible aspects of the organization's culture?

  • For example, the mission statement, newsletters, or office layout.
  • Note: Visible elements will need to be adapted to ensure they reinforce the value of the flexible work option.

How supportive are both the stated and lived values of the organization?

  • When the flexible work option includes less direct supervision, assess how empowered employees feel to make decisions.
  • Assess whether all types of employees (e.g. virtual) are included, valued, and supported.

How supportive are the attitudes and behaviors, especially of leaders?

  • Leaders set the expectations for acceptable behaviors in the organization. Determine how supportive leaders are toward flexible workers by examining their attitudes and perceptions.
  • Identify if employees are open to different ways of doing work.

Determine the resources required for the option

People

Process

Technology

Do employees have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to adopt this option?

  • Identify any areas (e.g. process, technology) employees will need to be trained on and assess the associated costs.
  • Determine whether the option will require additional headcount to ensure operational continuity (e.g. two part-time employees in a job-sharing arrangement) and calculate associated costs (e.g. recruitment, training, benefits).

How much will work processes need to change?

  • Interview organizational leaders with knowledge of the employee segment's core work processes. Determine whether a significant change will be required.
  • If a significant change is required, evaluate whether the benefits of the option outweigh the costs of the process and behavioral change (see the "net benefit" factor on slide 33).

What new technologies will be required?

  • Identify the technology (e.g. that supports communication, work processes) required to enable the flexible work option.
  • Note whether existing technology can be used or additional technology will be required, and further investigate the viability and costs of these options.

Examine the option's risks

Data

Health & Safety

Legal

How will data be kept secure?

  • Determine whether the organization's data policy and technology covers employees working remotely or other flexible work options.
  • If the employee segment handles sensitive data (e.g. personal employee information), consult relevant stakeholders to determine how data can be kept secure and assess any associated costs.

How will employees' health and safety be impacted?

  • Consult your organization's legal counsel to determine whether the organization will be liable for the employees' health and safety while working from home or other locations.
  • Determine whether the organization's policies and processes will need to be modified.

What legal risks might be involved?

  • Identify any policies in place or jurisdictional requirements to avoid any legal risks. Consult your organization's legal counsel about the situations below.
    • If the option causes significant changes to the nature of jobs, creating the risk of constructive dismissal.
    • If there are any risks to providing less supervision (e.g. higher chance of harassment).
    • When only some employee segments are eligible for the option, determine whether there is a risk of inequitable access.
    • If the option impacts any unionized employees or collective agreements.

Determine whether the benefits of the option outweigh the costs

Include senior leadership in the net benefit process to ensure any unfeasible options are removed from consideration before presenting to employees.

  1. Document the employee and employer benefits of the option from the previous feasibility factors on slides 29 to 32.
    • Include the benefits of reaching program goals identified in Step 1.
    • Quantify the benefits in dollar value where possible.
  2. Document the costs and risks of the option, referring to the costs noted from previous feasibility factors.
    • Quantify the costs in dollar value where possible.
  3. Compare the benefits and costs.
    • Add an option to your final list if the benefits are greater than the costs.

This is an image of a table with the main heading being Net Benefit, with the following subheadings: Benefits to organization; Benefits to employees; Costs.

Info-Tech Insight

Flexible work options must balance organizational and employee needs. If an option is beneficial to employees but there is little or no benefit to the organization as a whole, or if the cost of the option is too high, it will not support the long-term success of the organization.

2.1a Identify and evaluate flexible work options

30 minutes per employee segment per work option

If you are only considering hybrid or remote work, skip to activity 2.1b. Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to conduct feasibility assessments.

  1. Shortlist flexible work options. Review the Flexible Work Options Catalog to identify and shortlist five to seven flexible work options that are best suited to address the challenges faced for each of the priority employee segments. Record these on the "Options Shortlist" tab of the workbook. Even if the decision is simple, ensure you record the rationale to help communicate your decision to employees. Transparent communication is the best way to avoid feelings of unfairness if desired work options are not implemented.
  2. Evaluate option feasibility. For each of the shortlisted options, complete one "Feasibility - Option" tab in the workbook. Make as many copies of this tab as needed.
    • When evaluating each option, consider each employee segment individually as you work through the prompts in the workbook. You may find that segments differ greatly in the feasibility of various types of flexible work. You will use this information to inform your overall policy and any exceptions to it.
    • You may need to involve each segment's management team to get an accurate picture of day-to-day responsibilities and flexible work feasibility.
  3. Weigh benefits and costs. At the end of each flexible work option evaluation, record the anticipated costs and benefits. Discuss whether this balance renders the option viable or rules it out.

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Download the Flexible Work Options Catalog

Input

  • List of employee segments

Output

  • Shortlist of flexible work options
  • Feasibility analysis for each work option

Materials

  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook
  • Flexible Work Options Catalog

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee
  • Employee segment managers

2.1b Assess hybrid work feasibility

30 minutes per employee segment

Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to conduct a feasibility assessment. This exercise relies on having trialed hybrid or remote work before. If you have never implemented any degree of remote work, consider completing the full feasibility assessment in activity 2.1a.

  1. Evaluate hybrid work feasibility. Review the feasibility prompts on the "Work Unit Remote Work Assessment" tab and record your insight for each employee segment.
    • When evaluating each option, consider each employee segment individually as you work through the prompts in the workbook. You may find that segments differ greatly in their ability to accommodate hybrid work. You will use this information to inform your overall policy and any exceptions to it.
    • You may need to involve each segment's management team to get an accurate picture of day-to-day responsibilities and hybrid work feasibility.

Download the Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Input

  • List of employee segments

Output

  • Feasibility analysis for each work option

Materials

  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee
  • Employee segment managers

Ask employees which options they prefer and gather feedback for implementation

Deliver a survey and/or conduct focus groups with a selection of employees from all prioritized employee segments.

Share

  • Present your draft list of options to select employees.
  • Communicate that the organization is in the process of assessing the feasibility of flexible work options and would like employee input to ensure flex work meets needs.
  • Be clear that the list is not final or guaranteed.

Ask

  • Ask which options are preferred more than others.
  • Ask for feedback on each option – how could it be modified to meet employee needs better? Use this information to inform implementation in Step 3.

Decide

  • Prioritize an option if many employees indicated an interest in it.
  • If employees indicate no interest in an option, consider eliminating it from the list, unless it will be required. There is no value in providing an option if employees won't use it.

Survey

  • List the options and ask respondents to rate each on a Likert scale from 1 to 5.
  • Ask some open-ended questions with comment boxes for employee suggestions.

Focus Group

  • Conduct focus groups to gather deeper feedback.
  • See Appendix I for sample focus group questions.

Info-Tech Insight

Prioritize flexible work options that employees want. Providing too many options often leads to information overload and results in employees not understanding what is available, lowering adoption of the flexible work program.

Finalize options list with senior leadership

  1. Select one to three final options and outline the details of each. Include:
    • Scope: To what extent will the option be applied? E.g. work-from-home one or two days a week.
    • Eligibility: Which employee segments are eligible?
    • Cost: What investment will be required?
    • Critical implementation issues: Will any of the implementation issues identified for each feasibility factor impact whether the option will be approved?
    • Resources: What additional resources will be required (e.g. technology)?
  2. Present the options to stakeholders for approval. Include:
    • An outline of the finalized options, including what the option is and the scope, eligibility, and critical implementation issues.
    • The feasibility assessment results, including benefits, costs, and employee preferences. Have more detail from the other factors ready if leaders ask about them.
    • The investment (cost) required to implement the option.
  3. Proceed to Step 3 to implement approved options.

Running an IT pilot of flex work

  • As a technology department, IT typically doesn't own flexible work implementation for the entire organization. However, it is common to trial flexible work options for IT first, before rolling out to the entire organization.
  • During a flex work pilot, ensure you are working closely with HR partners, especially regarding regulatory and compliance issues.
  • Keep the rest of the organizational stakeholders in the loop, especially regarding their agreement on the metrics by which the pilot's success will be evaluated.

2.2a Finalize flexible work options

2-3 hours + time to gather employee feedback

If you are only considering hybrid or remote work, skip to activity 2.2b. Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to gather final feedback and finalize work option selections.

  1. Gather employee feedback. If employee preferences are already known, skip this step. If they are not, gather feedback to ascertain whether any of the shortlisted options are preferred. Remember that a successful flexible work program balances the needs of employees and the business, so employee preference is a key determinant in flexible work program success. Document this on the "Employee Preferences" tab of the workbook.
  2. Finalize flexible work options. Use your notes on the cost-benefit balance for each option, along with employee preferences, to decide whether the move forward with it. Record this decision on the "Options Final List" tab. Include information about eligible employee segments and any implementation challenges that came up during the feasibility assessments. This is the final decision summary that will inform your flexible program parameters and policies.

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Input

  • Flexible work options shortlist

Output

  • Final flexible work options list

Materials

  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee

2.2b Finalize hybrid work parameters

2-3 hours + time to gather employee feedback

Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to gather final feedback and finalize work option selections.

  1. Summarize feasibility analysis. On the "Program Parameters" tab, record the main insights from your feasibility analysis. Finalize important elements, including eligibility for hybrid/remote work by employee segment. Additionally, record the standard parameters for the program (i.e. those that apply to all employee segments) and variable parameters (i.e. ones that differ by employee segment).

Download the Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Input

  • Hybrid work feasibility analysis

Output

  • Final hybrid work program parameters

Materials

  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee

Step 3

Implement selected option(s)

1. Assess employee and organizational flexibility needs
2. Identify potential flex options and assess feasibility
3. Implement selected option(s)

After completing this step, you will have:

  • Addressed implementation issues and cultural barriers
  • Equipped the organization to adopt flexible work options successfully
  • Piloted the program and assessed its success
  • Developed a plan for program rollout and communication
  • Established a program evaluation plan
  • Aligned HR programs to support the program

Solve the implementation issues identified in your feasibility assessment

  1. Identify a solution for each implementation issue documented in the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook. Consider the following when identifying solutions:
    • Scope: Determine whether the solution will be applied to one or all employee segments.
    • Stakeholders: Identify stakeholders to consult and develop a solution. If the scope is one employee segment, work with organizational leaders of that segment. When the scope is the entire organization, consult with senior leaders.
    • Implementation: Collaborate with stakeholders to solve implementation issues. Balance the organizational and employee needs, referring to data gathered in Steps 1 and 2.

Example:

Issue

Solution

Option 1: Hybrid work

Brainstorming at the beginning of product development benefits from face-to-face collaboration.

Block off a "brainstorming day" when all team members are required in the office.

Employee segment: Product innovation team

One team member needs to meet weekly with the implementation team to conduct product testing.

Establish a schedule with rotating responsibility for a team member to be at the office for product testing; allow team members to swap days if needed.

Address cultural barriers by involving leaders

To shift a culture that is not supportive of flexible work, involve leaders in setting an example for employees to follow.

Misconceptions

Tactics to overcome them

  • Flexible workers are less productive.
  • Flexible work disrupts operations.
  • Flexible workers are less committed to the organization.
  • Flexible work only benefits employees, not the organization.
  • Employees are not working if they aren't physically in the office.

Make the case by highlighting challenges and expected benefits for both the organization and employees (e.g. same or increased productivity). Use data in the introductory section of this blueprint.

Demonstrate operational feasibility by providing an overview of the feasibility assessment conducted to ensure operational continuity.

Involve most senior leadership in communication.

Encourage discovery and exploration by having managers try flexible work options themselves, which will help model it for employees.

Highlight success stories within the organization or from competitors or similar industries.

Invite input from managers on how to improve implementation and ownership, which helps to discover hidden options.

Shift symbols, values, and behaviors

  • Work with senior leaders to identify symbols, values, and behaviors to modify to align with the selected flexible work options.
  • Validate that the final list aligns with your organization's mission, vision, and values.

Info-Tech Insight

Leaders' collective support of the flexible program determines the program's successful adoption. Don't sweep cultural barriers under the rug; acknowledge and address them to overcome them.

Equip the organization for successful implementation

Info-Tech recommends providing managers and employees with a guide to flexible work, introducing policies, and providing training for managers.

Provide managers and employees with a guide to flexible work

Introduce appropriate organization policies

Equip managers with the necessary tools and training

Use the guide to:

  • Familiarize employees and managers with the flexible work program.
  • Gain employee and manager buy-in and support for the program.
  • Explain the process and give guidance on selecting flexible work options and working with their colleagues to make it a success.

Use Info-Tech's customizable policy templates to set guidelines, outline arrangements, and scope the organization's flexible work policies. This is typically done by, or in collaboration with, the HR department.

Download the Guide to Flexible Work for Managers and Employees

Download the Flex Location Policy

Download the Flex Time-Off Policy

Download the Flex Time Policy

3.1 Prepare for implementation

2-3 hours

Use the guidelines on the preceding slides to brainstorm solutions to implementation issues and prepare to communicate program rollout to stakeholders.

  1. Solve implementation issues.
    • If you are working with the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook: For each implementation challenge identified on the "Final Options List" tab, brainstorm solutions. If you are working with the Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook: Work through the program enablement prompts on the "Program Enablement" tab.
    • You may need to involve relevant stakeholders to help you come up with appropriate solutions for each employee segment.
    • Ensure that any anticipated cultural barriers have been documented and are addressed during this step. Don't underestimate the importance of a supportive organizational culture to the successful rollout of flexible work.
  2. Prepare the employee guide. Modify the Guide to Flexible Work for Managers and Employees template to reflect your final work options list and the processes and expectations employees will need to follow.
  3. Create a communication plan. Use Info-Tech's Communicate Any IT Initiative blueprint and Appendix II to craft your messaging.

Download the Guide to Flexible Work for Managers and Employees

Download the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook

Input

  • Flexible work options final list

Output

  • Employee guide to flexible work
  • Flexible work rollout communication plan

Materials

  • Guide to Flexible Work for Managers and Employees
  • Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook
    Or
  • Fast-Track Hybrid Work Program Workbook

Participants

  • Flexible work program committee
  • Employee segment managers

Run an IT pilot for flexible work

Prepare for pilot

Launch Pilot

Identify the flexible work options that will be piloted.

  • Refer to the final list of selected options for each priority segment to determine which options should be piloted.

Select pilot participants.

  • If not rolling out to the entire IT department, look for the departments and/or team(s) where there is the greatest need and the biggest interest (e.g. team with lowest engagement scores).
  • Include all employees within the department, or team if the department is too large, in the pilot.
  • Start with a group whose managers are best equipped for the new flexibility options.

Create an approach to collect feedback and measure the success of the pilot.

  • Feedback can be collected using surveys, focus groups, and/or targeted in-person interviews.

The length of the pilot will greatly vary based on which flexible work options were selected (e.g. seasonal hours will require a shorter pilot period compared to implementing a compressed work week). Use discretion when deciding on pilot length and be open to extending or shortening the pilot length as needed.

Launch pilot.

  • Launch the program through a town hall meeting or departmental announcement to build excitement and buy-in.
  • Develop separate communications for employee segments where appropriate. See Appendix II for key messaging to include.

Gather feedback.

  • The feedback will be used to assess the pilot's success and to determine what modifications will be needed later for a full-scale rollout.
  • When gathering feedback, tailor questions based on the employee segment but keep themes similar. For example:
    • Employees: "How did this help your day-to-day work?"
    • Managers: "How did this improve productivity on your team?"

Track metrics.

  • The success of the pilot is best communicated using your department's unique KPIs.
  • Metrics are critical for:
    • Accurately determining pilot success.
    • Getting buy-in to expand the pilot beyond IT.
    • Justifying to employees any changes made to the flexible work options.

Assess the pilot's success and determine next steps

Review the feedback collected on the previous slide and use this decision tree to decide whether to relaunch a pilot or proceed to a full-scale rollout of the program.

This is an image of the flow chart used to assess the pilot's success and determine the next steps.  It will help you to determine whether you will Proceed to full-scale rollout on next slide, Major modifications to the option/launch (e.g. change operating time) – adjust and relaunch pilot or select a new employee segment and relaunch pilot, Minor modifications to the option/launch (e.g. introduce additional communications) – adjust and proceed to full scale rollout, or Return to shortlist (Step 2) and select a different option or launch pilot with a different employee segment.

Prepare for full-scale rollout

If you have run a team pilot prior to rolling out to all of IT, or run an IT pilot before an organizational rollout, use the following steps to transition from pilot to full rollout.

  1. Determine modifications
    • Review the feedback gathered during the pilot and determine what needs to change for a full-scale implementation.
    • Update HR policies and programs to support flexible work. Work closely with your HR business partner and other organizational leaders to ensure every department's needs are understood and compliance issues are addressed.
  2. Roll out and evaluate
    • Roll out the remainder of the program (e.g. to other employee segments or additional flexible work options) once there is significant uptake of the pilot by the target employee group and issues have been addressed.
    • Determine how feedback will be gathered after implementation, such as during engagement surveys, new hire and exit surveys, stay interviews, etc., and assess whether the program continues to meet employee and organizational needs.

Rolling out beyond IT

For a rollout beyond IT, HR will likely take over.

However, this is your chance to remain at the forefront of your organization's flexible work efforts by continuing to track success and gather feedback within IT.

Align HR programs and organizational policies to support flexible work

Talent Management

Learning & Development

Talent Acquisition

Reinforce managers' accountability for the success of flexible work in their teams:

  • Include "managing virtual teams" in the people management leadership competency.
  • Recognize managers who are modeling flexible work.

Support flexible workers' career progression:

  • Monitor the promotion rates of flexible workers vs. non-flexible workers.
  • Make sure flexible workers are discussed during talent calibration meetings and have access to career development opportunities.

Equip managers and employees with the knowledge and skills to make flexible work successful.

  • Provide guidance on selecting the right options and maintaining workflow.
  • If moving to a virtual environment, train managers on how to make it a success.

Incorporate the flexible work program into the organization's employee value proposition to attract top talent who value flexible work options.

  • Highlight the program on the organization's career site and in job postings.

Organizational policies

Determine which organizational policies will be impacted as a result of the new flexible work options. For example, the introduction of flex time off can result in existing vacation policies needing to be updated.

Plan to re-evaluate the program and make improvements

Collect data

Collect data

Act on data

Uptake

Gather data on the proportion of employees eligible for each option who are using the option.

If an option is tracking positively:

  • Maintain or expand the program to more of the organization.
  • Conduct a feasibility assessment (Step 2) for new employee segments.

Satisfaction

Survey managers and employees about their satisfaction with the options they are eligible for and provide an open box for suggestions on improvements.

If an option is tracking negatively:

  • Investigate why. Gather additional data, interview organizational leaders, and/or conduct focus groups to gain deeper insight.
  • Re-assess the feasibility of the option (Step 2). If the costs outweigh the benefits based on new data, determine whether to cancel the option.
  • Take appropriate action based on the outcome of the evaluation, such as modifying or cancelling the option or providing employees with more support.
    • Note: Cancelling an option can impact the engagement of employees using the option. Ensure that the data, reasons for cancelling the option, and potential substitute options are communicated to employees in advance.

Program goal progress

Monitor progress against the program goals and metrics identified in Step 1 to evaluate the impact on issues that matter to the organization (e.g. retention, productivity, diversity).

Career progression

Evaluate flexible workers' promotion rates and development opportunities to determine if they are developing.

Info-Tech Insight

Negative performance of a flexible work option does not necessarily mean failure. Take the time to evaluate whether the option simply needs to be tweaked or whether it truly isn't working for the organization.

Insight summary

Overarching insight: IT excels at hybrid location work and is more effective as a business function when location, time, and time-off flexibility are an option for its employees.

Introduction

  • Flexible work options are not a concession to lower productivity. Properly implemented, flex work enables employees to be more productive at reaching business goals.
  • Employees' lived experiences and needs determine if people use flexible work programs – a flex program that has limited use or excludes people will not benefit the organization.
  • Flexible work benefits everyone. IT employees experience greater engagement, motivation, and company loyalty. IT organizations realize benefits such as better service coverage, reduced facilities costs, and increased productivity.

Step 1 insight

  • Hybrid work is a start. A comprehensive flex work program extends beyond flexible location to flexible time and time off. Organizations must understand the needs of unique employee groups to uncover the options that will attract and retain talent. Provide greater inclusivity to employees by broadening the scope to include flex location, flex time, and flex time off.
  • No two employee segments are the same. To be effective, flexible work options must align with the expectations and working processes of each segment.

Step 2 insight

  • Every role is eligible for hybrid location work. If onsite work duties prevent an employee group from participating, see if processes can be digitized or automated. Flexible work is an opportunity to go beyond current needs to future proofing your organization.
  • Flexible work options must balance organizational and employee needs. If an option is beneficial to employees but there is little or no benefit to the organization, or if the cost of the option is too high, it will not support the long-term success of the organization.
  • Prioritize flexible work options that employees want. Providing too many options often leads to information overload and results in employees not understanding what is available, lowering adoption of the flexible work program.

Step 3 insight

  • Leaders' collective support of the flexible program determines the program's successful adoption. Don't sweep cultural barriers under the rug; acknowledge and address them to overcome them.
  • Negative performance of a flexible work option does not necessarily mean failure. Take the time to evaluate whether the option simply needs to be tweaked or whether it truly isn't working for the organization.
  • A set of formal guidelines for IT ensures flexible work is:
    1. Administered fairly across all IT employees.
    2. Defensible and clear.
    3. Scalable to the rest of the organization.

Research Contributors and Experts

Quinn Ross
CEO
The Ross Firm Professional Corporation

Margaret Yap
HR Professor
Ryerson University

Heather Payne
CEO
Juno College

Lee Nguyen
HR Specialist
City of Austin

Stacey Spruell
Division HR Director
Travis County

Don MacLeod
Chief Administrative Officer
Zorra Township

Stephen Childs
CHRO
Panasonic North America

Shawn Gibson
Sr. Director
Info Tech Research Group

Mari Ryan
CEO/Founder
Advancing Wellness

Sophie Wade
Founder
Flexcel Networks

Kim Velluso
VP Human Resources
Siemens Canada

Lilian De Menezes
Professor of Decision Sciences
Cass Business School, University of London

Judi Casey
WorkLife Consultant and former Director, Work and Family Researchers Network
Boston College

Chris Frame
Partner – Operations
LiveCA

Rose M. Stanley, CCP, CBP, WLCP, CEBS
People Services Manager
Sunstate Equipment Co., LLC

Shari Lava
Director, Vendor Research
Info-Tech Research Group

Carol Cochran
Director of People & Culture
FlexJobs

Kidde Kelly
OD Practitioner

Dr. David Chalmers
Adjunct Professor
Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University

Kashmira Nagarwala
Change Manager
Siemens Canada

Dr. Isik U. Zeytinoglu
Professor of Management and Industrial Relations McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business

Claire McCartney
Diversity & Inclusion Advisor
CIPD

Teresa Hopke
SVP of Client Relations
Life Meets Work – www.lifemeetswork.com

Mark Tippey
IT Leader and Experienced Teleworker

Dr. Kenneth Matos
Senior Director of Research
Families and Work Institute

1 anonymous contributor

Appendix I: Sample focus group questions

See Info-Tech's Focus Group Guidefor guidance on setting up and delivering focus groups. Customize the guide with questions specific to flexible work (see sample questions below) to gain deeper insight into employee preferences for the feasibility assessment in Step 2 of this blueprint.

Document themes in the Targeted Flexible Work Program Workbook.

  • What do you need to balance/integrate your work with your personal life?
  • What challenges do you face in achieving work-life balance/integration?
  • What about your job is preventing you from achieving work-life balance/integration?
  • How would [flexible work option] help you achieve work-life balance/integration?
  • How well would this option work with the workflow of your team or department? What would need to change?
  • What challenges do you see in adopting [flexible work option]?
  • What else would be helpful for you to achieve work-life balance/integration?
  • How could we customize [flexible work option] to ensure it meets your needs?
  • If this program were to fail, what do you think would be the top reasons and why?

Appendix II: Communication key messaging

1. Program purpose

Start with the name and high-level purpose of the program.

2. Business reasons for the program

Share data you gathered in Step 1, illustrating challenges causing the need for the program and the benefits.

3. Options selection process

Outline the process followed to select options. Remember to share the involvement of stakeholders and the planning around employees' feedback, needs, and lived experiences.

4. Options and eligibility

Provide a brief overview of the options and eligibility. Specify that the organization is piloting these options and will modify them based on feedback.

5. Approval not guaranteed

Qualify that employees need to be "flexible about flexible work" – the options are not guaranteed and may sometimes be unavailable for business reasons.

6. Shared responsibility

Highlight the importance of everyone (managers, flexible workers, the team) working together to make flexible work achievable.

7. Next steps

Share any next steps, such as where employees can find the organization's Guide to Flexible Work for Managers and Employees, how to make flexible work a success, or if managers will be providing further detail in a team meeting.

8. Ongoing communications

Normalize the program and embed it in organizational culture by continuing communications through various media, such as the organization's newsletter or announcements in town halls.

Works Cited

Baziuk, Jennifer, and Duncan Meadows. "Global Employee Survey - Key findings and implications for ICMIF." EY, June 2021. Accessed May 2022.
"Businesses suffering 'commitment issues' on flexible working," EY, 21 Sep. 2021. Accessed May 2022.
"IT Talent Trends 2022". Info-Tech Research Group, 2022.
"Jabra Hybrid Ways of Working: 2021 Global Report." Jabra, Aug. 2021. Accessed May 2022.
LinkedIn Talent Solutions. "2022 Global Talent Trends." LinkedIn, 2022. Accessed May 2022.
Lobosco, Mark. "The Future of Work is Flexible: 71% of Leaders Feel Pressure to Change Working Models." LinkedIn, 9 Sep. 2021. Accessed May 2022.
Ohm, Joy, et al. "Covid-19: Women, Equity, and Inclusion in the Future of Work." Catalyst, 28 May 2020. Accessed May 2022.
Pelta, Rachel. "Many Workers Have Quit or Plan to After Employers Revoke Remote Work." FlexJobs, 2021. Accessed May 2022.
Slack Future Forum. "Inflexible return-to-office policies are hammering employee experience scores." Slack, 19 April 2022. Accessed May 2022.
"State of Hybrid Work in IT: A Trend Report". Info-Tech Research Group, 2023.
Threlkeld, Kristy. "Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19's Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It." Indeed, 11 March 2021. Accessed March 2022.

Select flexible work options that balance organizational and employee needs to drive engagement and improve attraction and retention.

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  • Call 1: Scope requirements, objectives, and your specific challenges.
  • Call 2: Assess employee and organizational needs.
  • Call 3: Shortlist flex work options and assess feasibility.
  • Call 4: Finalize flex work options and create rollout plan.
  • Call 5: (Optional) Review rollout progress or evaluate pilot success.

Author

Jane Kouptsova

Contributors

  • Judi Casey, WorkLife Consultant and former Director, Work and Family Researchers Network, Boston College
  • Dr. David Chalmers, Adjunct Professor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University
  • Stephen Childs, CHRO, Panasonic North America
  • Carol Cochran, Director of People & Culture, FlexJobs
  • Lilian De Menezes, Professor of Decision Sciences, Cass Business School, University of London
  • Chris Frame, Partner – Operations, LiveCA
  • Shawn Gibson, Sr. Director, Info Tech Research Group
  • Teresa Hopke, SVP of Client Relations, Life Meets Work – www.lifemeetswork.com
  • Kidde Kelly, OD Practitioner
  • Shari Lava, Director, Vendor Research, Info-Tech Research Group
  • Don MacLeod, Chief Administrative Officer, Zorra Township
  • Dr. Kenneth Matos, Senior Director of Research, Families and Work Institute
  • Claire McCartney, Diversity & Inclusion Advisor, CIPD
  • Kashmira Nagarwala, Change Manager, Siemens Canada
  • Lee Nguyen, HR Specialist, City of Austin
  • Heather Payne, CEO, Juno College
  • Quinn Ross, CEO, The Ross Firm Professional Corporation
  • Mari Ryan, CEO/Founder, Advancing Wellness
  • Stacey Spruell, Division HR Director, Travis County
  • Rose M. Stanley, CCP, CBP, WLCP, CEBS, People Services Manager, Sunstate Equipment Co., LLC
  • Mark Tippey, IT Leader and Experienced Teleworker
  • Kim Velluso, VP Human Resources, Siemens Canada
  • Sophie Wade, Founder, Flexcel Networks
  • Margaret Yap, HR Professor, Ryerson University
  • Dr. Isik U. Zeytinoglu, Professor of Management and Industrial Relations McMaster University, DeGroote School of Business
  • Anonymous Contributor
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