More and more businesses are bringing flexible working to their office environments. It is a great way to boost productivity and to make the most of the skills your employees have.

It isn’t always easy to establish and sustain though, so we thought we would put together some easy to use guidelines that would make it easier to make flexible working a useful and essential part of your business growth.

Use the (frankly) vast amount of software solutions

Flexible working has exploded in recent years and more and more businesses are finding that the use of incredibly powerful collaboration software like Slack and Basecamp make the whole thing a lot easier.

In fact, once your business has fully accepted the idea that flexible working is the way forward, you can use these solutions as quick and easy ways to communicate (Slack, for example, has a messaging tool that allows for much quicker communication than email) and to share project work. These software solutions are making it so much easier to track project work too. Trello, for example, has options to include entire teams on the same project board, with a chat option available too.

And the digital thing? Reverse it a little

That last point was real, but there is a little bit of a caveat. You can embrace the digital working culture a little too much. The last thing you want employees to be doing is isolating themselves for the whole day.

Many businesses are finding that having a culture that promotes the odd face-to-face meeting on a regular basis allows for small, non-essential information to be communicated quickly. Also, it doesn’t clog up email.

If you have a flexible working system in place, make it clear that people should still connect every time they are in the office. Work out the kinds of conversations and communications that can be done in seconds, face-to-face, and make sure they do happen. If done well, this way of working will free up even more time, because writing a long email instead of actually speaking to someone is time-expensive. That time saved could be used working.

Extend this to play too. Some companies encourage colleagues spending time together online in a non-work environment, like online casinos or video games, so that even when they are apart, employees are still connecting.

Test it first

Like most things in business, testing flexible working is absolutely vital. Before the company sends whole teams into flexible working, it is worth looking at different departments and seeing which teams would benefit the most first. Then, test the team by arranging for a couple of members to try flexible working. If it works out, and there are corresponding increases in productivity and impact, move the test wider to include the rest of the team. Doing this allows for a safety net if things start to go wrong. Remember that flexible working as a concept is still alien to some people.

Finally, once flexible working hours and locations are in place, continue to test them to make sure you are gaining the impact you wanted. It is indeed a worthwhile project, but flexible working can only happen if the company has the confidence and the resources to provide it.