Workers’ expectations of how they want to work have shifted in the last two years. With increased remote and hybrid work came more flexible schedules, allowing people to set up their days to suit how they want to work — when and wherever they like. To increase productivity, managers need to ask their teams how they want to work — and support that.

This has created opportunities for managers and leaders to embrace this new working environment, but also strike a balance between giving people free reign and ensuring they still respect others’ time and schedules in order for work to actually get done. Here, we discuss ways to put all of this into practice. 

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To transition to a system allowing people to work when they’re most energized and productive, start by opening up better lines of communication, Tate said. 

“You have to talk to each other about what’s working and not working so you can collectively problem-solve and then create the solution,” she said.

“Team agreements outline norms,” Subramanian said. “Everybody’s work is different, and trying to impose a one-size-fits-all model is not an effective way to engage your employees.”

“The important thing is to make a plan for the day and identify the priority tasks,” Dunne said. “This helps people stay focused and get things done regardless of the time of day or location.” 

Today’s work-from-anywhere environment has shown people are more productive because they have more autonomy. They’re spending their time focused on their tasks and not being judged on whether they’re physically present. 

People want space to work autonomously, but also need guidance from managers, who can help create accountability.

People want flexibility within a framework.

“The manager helps build that structure through very clear goals and deadlines,” Tate said. “Building out very clear, measurable project plans, goals that ladder up to strategy with clear due dates and deliverables helps build that structure.” 

Having technology tools in place can also help create autonomy within a digital-first workplace, regardless where people physically work. That said, people should still be available. 

“People want flexibility within a framework,” Subramanian said. “You need to be very clear among your team as to when you expect people to be responsive, but otherwise give them the freedom to work on their terms.”

“The role of the manager has fundamentally changed,” Subramanian said. “It’s not just about the work. It’s about understanding the motivators and the detractors for your employees. So get to know them better and foster that connection.”

“We’re seeing that flexibility with some structure has been really beneficial to live your life, take care of your family and community, and be an effective employee,” Subramanian said. 

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