4 Things You Should Do to Make Flexible Work Successful

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Jan 18, 2016

You’ve heard that employees want flexible work.

In fact, 30 percent of respondents to a FlexJobs survey said they would take a 10 or even 20 percent cut in pay for flexible work options. In addition, 97 percent said a job with flexibility would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.

Ready to adopt flexible work?

First, you need to determine which options will work for your organization and put them in place. But, once you’ve set up flexible arrangements, you also need to take a few steps to make sure the program is successful.

Here are a few practical concerns of flexible work arrangements and how to manage them:

1. Keep payroll compliant

One of the fastest growing flexible work arrangements is telecommuting. According to data from, regular work-at-home has grown by 103 percent since 2005 and 6.5 percent since 2014.

Approximately 3.7 million U.S. employees now work from home at least half of the time.

When full-time telecommuting employees live out of state, filing taxes can get tricky. You need to know which states have reciprocal agreements and which allow employees to work in nearby states without paying income taxes in both states (employees only need to pay taxes to the state with the higher rate). Understand the laws of the states your employees live in and how they affect the organization and workers.

When employees work from home part-time, track hours to determine which is their primary working location. If they work from home for a majority of the time, and home is in a different state than the office, tax payments should reflect that. Check in with employees with flexible work arrangements to determine how many hours are spent in each location to keep tax payments in the right place.

2. Engage remote employees

Flexible work arrangements may improve work-life balance, but they may take a toll on engagement.

In a survey of U.S. employees by Wrike, 51 percent ranked problems with procrastination as a top workplace stressor. What’s more, a survey published by CareerBuilder found that cellphones and texting, the Internet, and social media are among the top productivity killers.

Without others watching them, employees who work from home may be more likely to fall prey to procrastination and digital distractions.

Keep remote employees engaged by keeping them accountable. Set daily deadlines and goals for employees. These should be realistic to what workers can achieve in a workday and should keep larger projects and assignments on track.

Use an internal platform where employees can see their assignments, progress, and engage with their team and manager. Flexible workers will stay focused with clear accountability and expectations.

3. Know the status of employees

With the multitude of possible flexible work options, how do you know if your workers are still full-time employees?

The IRS is cracking down on employee misclassifications and you need to know if your flexible workers are W-2 employees or 1099 contractors.

Independent contractors typically set their own schedules, accept tasks on a case-by-case basis, use their own tools, and may have more than one client. In contrast, employees have a set schedule, complete all work assigned to them, use resources provided by the organization, and work for one employer.

Flexible work arrangements can confuse these classifications, and misclassifications can incur fines and other penalties. Understand the distinction between contractors and employees, and double-check that your flexible workers are classified correctly.

4. Keep schedules straight

Flexible work arrangements may make life easier for employees, but they can make it more hectic for managers. When employees work different hours from different locations, it can be difficult for managers to keep track of everyone and reach certain employees when they need them.

Managers need to know who is working when and where, and employees need to let them know when they are available. HR tools and internal scheduling platforms can help managers keep track of their team, and can help the team better communicate when and where they are working.

Establish practices for employees to check in with their managers. Whether they notify managers through an internal communication network when they start and end work, send them updates on tasks throughout the day, or communicate in some other way, let employees know what is expected of them and how they should contact managers while working remotely.

Flexible work arrangements may take extra time and effort to put in place, but once the kinks are ironed out and the program is up and running, employees will be happier, healthier, and more engaged.

How do you manage flexible work options? Share in the comments below!

Matt Straz is the founder & CEO ofNamely, the HR, payroll, and benefits platform built for today’s workplace. Connect with Matt and the Namely team on Twitter, Facebook, andLinkedIn.