Implementing a flexible working arrangement

The steps below can help you implement an employee’s flexible working arrangement. If your business employs only a few staff, you may want to simplify and personalise these steps.

Step 1 - Keep a record of the agreement

Before commencing any flexible working arrangement, make sure you have the necessary documentation (e.g. health and safety details for telecommuting) and a record of any conditions of the agreement, including start and finish dates.

Step 2 - Tell the employee what will be expected of them

When an employee commences a flexible working arrangement, they will need to adopt certain practices to make sure the arrangement doesn't negatively impact the rest of the team. Particularly if the employee’s normal workplace is an office, it’s important that they get into the habit of:

  • including their office hours in their email signature
  • setting an ‘out of office’ email notification that explains when they will be back and who can be contacted in the meantime
  • transferring their phone to either a mobile phone, a landline at an alternative work location (if telecommuting), or a colleague’s phone who has agreed to take their calls
  • ensuring any shared documentation (paper or electronic) is filed correctly so that other employees can access it in their absence
  • communicating working hours with key clients and discussing any delays this may cause them.

Step 3 - Managing the flexible working arrangement

Once the flexible working arrangement begins, you may notice things that work well, as well as problems that arise. Keep a record of these things so you can discuss them later when you’re reviewing the arrangement.

Let the employee know that you will be monitoring their performance (as you do with all your employees) and there will be a review process to make sure the flexible working arrangements are working effectively.

Managing a job share arrangement

Job sharing arrangements often involve extra thought and planning. To implement an effective job share arrangement, you should:

  • establish clear and concise job descriptions that allocate responsibilities and tasks to each employee
  • set clear guidelines and expectations about job sharers’ workload capacity
  • set up a work schedule outlining the days and hours each job sharer works
  • define expected work outcomes and objectives for each employee in their performance management plan
  • establish communication guidelines to ensure information is transferred between job sharers and the role functions ‘seamlessly’
  • agree on arrangements for covering job sharers’ absences
  • monitor the arrangement and consult both partners individually about how it is working
  • confirm arrangements for when one partner leaves the position.

Step 4 - Continue to communicate with all your employees

Regular communication is vital to the success of flexible working arrangements. You should:

  • share your policy on flexible working arrangements with all employees
  • communicate with employees that are on flexible working arrangements so they feel included in the workplace and can perform their job effectively
  • inform co-workers when staff are on flexible working arrangements so they can adjust their own practices
  • share employee work schedules and online calendars
  • share mobile telephone numbers for staff working out of the office
  • provide a planning calendar for employee leave or holidays and hang in a communal area (can be up to 12 months in advance)
  • makes sure staff use an ‘out-of-office’ message when away.

Step 5 - Review and manage performance

Whether you have approved a temporary or permanent arrangement, you should review it on a regular basis (e.g. every 6 to 12 months). This is your opportunity to provide feedback to the employee about how the arrangement is working and make changes, if necessary.

Performance management of employees on flexible working arrangements should be the same as for anyone else. As part of your staff performance review, you can discuss areas that need improvement and any changes that need to be made to the flexible working arrangements as a result.

Feedback from colleagues

You should also seek feedback from colleagues as part of the review. Flexible arrangements need to work for the whole team, not just for some people. Colleague feedback can provide useful input to refining flexible working arrangements after a trial period. Confidentiality in this process is vital.