Unlocking Greater Productivity With a Flexible Workforce (Part I)

How can you empower managers to make the best decisions to get the job done?

Born out of necessity instead of choice, the COVID-19 outbreak moved remote work from a suggestion to a safety requirement. Clear benefits that extend beyond the current crisis like lower overhead, a global talent pool, and workplace flexibility have led some tech giants like Twitter, Stripe and Shopify to make remote work permanent. 

Yet despite the positives, many are struggling with pain points like communication shortfalls, fears of disengagement, and centralized decision-making. The rapid shift to employees working from home coupled with the effects of a volatile market (layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes) have complicated the issue of productivity.

For agile departments like engineering, marketing, and even HR, how can remote work become an advantage? 

Tap into the ‘right’ talent — including on-demand workers.

Tap into the ‘right’ talent — including on-demand workers.

Remote work enables you to get the help you need. It not only puts you in contact with talent based anywhere in the world, but also opens the door to the Gig Economy. In my experience, freelancers are adept at self-management, independent work, and bringing their expertise to short-term projects. 

In fact, a recent study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) found freelancers to have the traits of proactivity, resilience, and mental agility—three characteristics that are necessary in today’s world of uncertainty. These individuals can even guide newly-hired remote workers, as they may require more support in adjusting to a new environment and more autonomous mode of working. 
Depending on your needs, remote work affords you the flexibility to hire a freelance programmer for a month-long coding project or bring on a full-time social media marketer to manage your brand. It also enables you to hire the best person for the job, no matter where they call home.

Make constant progress with a ‘Follow the Sun’ model.

Make constant progress with a ‘Follow the Sun’ model.

A location independent workplace enables you to take advantage of a 24/7 workforce. The approach is commonly called Follow the Sun. It represents how remote work enables team members to continue during the day in their time zone so that someone is always ‘behind the wheel,’ ensuring that milestones are being met and that projects are continually moving forward.

I experienced the positives of this approach to remote work firsthand. In a previous role as vice president of professional services, I managed people in seven different countries who were located across various time zones. This setup enabled us to: 

  • Cover tasks through various teammates’ day and night shifts. 
  • Provide employees with the flexibility to work during times that were best for their personal schedules. 

It was empowering to know that help desk tickets, customer questions and project tasks were being handled around the clock. It made it possible for us to be efficient at what we do and give our customers the confidence that someone was always there to help. 

Because of it, our team also enjoyed greater flexibility, as those who needed to work different hours of the day could achieve work-life balance—something especially crucial now in the time of a pandemic. 

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If you’re working in a client-facing department and need team members to rapidly manage inquiries or handle a constant flow of projects, consider ways such as freelance hiring that you could help your team Follow the Sun.

Ready for more insights on productivity with a flexible workforce? Check out my second post in this series here.

Written by
Lihi Lutan

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