Starting work late.
Getting enough sleep and not depending on the alarm clock.
Having time for family in the mornings.
Scheduling the workout before work.
Logging off early and having a dinner hangout with friends – what a bliss!
Getting a long lunch break and continuing with the work late in the evening when you are most productive.
Depending on someone’s support across the globe to reply to customer requests when local team members are off from work.
Working only four hours per week.
Several duty officers handling software glitches 24/7.
A well-oiled business machine that does the nitty-gritty for you, leaving you to contemplate strategy in the wee morning hours.
Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? These are all benefits of working remotely on a flexible work schedule.
But why people complain about flexi-time then? What creates flexi-time problems in the first place? Why so many people lack structure when they start working flexible working hours?
Let us find out why too much flexibility often sounds too good to be true and how you can have both flexibility and structure without the fear of getting lost in an organizational vacuum. With the tips and tricks you will learn below, you can work flexibly in time and space, and grow your business beyond the constraints you have placed upon yourself.
The Archenemies of a Flexible Work Schedule
When it comes to working with a virtual team, there is no limit to a flexible schedule. You can create one, regardless of the size of your work unit. You can think of a flexible work schedule on an individual, team, corporate, and global level.
There is no need to work long hours if you work on a flexible schedule. Long hours are a by-the-book consequence of the typical flexitime traps:
- Poor work\life balance. You don’t know where work ends and private time starts. You work too much and end up exhausted.
- Procrastination. There is no one to keep you accountable for when and how much you work. You fail to deliver compared to working pressed by looming deadlines.
- Team isolation. When everyone can choose when to work, time discrepancies result, and no one ever works at the same time.
- Lack of career development. No joint space to compete and measure progress and objectives is a hurdle to career progress.
- Working from home. You cannot spend 24 hours at work, so you will inevitably have to spend some time working from home, which can harm your private life.
- Communication challenges. Working remotely in different time zones is an obstacle to successful ad hoc meetings or tackling urgent issues.
- Management issues. Managers can feel a lack of control and a sense that the team will dissolve without keeping everyone tight together and have problems with delegation and accountability.
- More strain on the leader. No time for yourself and all the time for business issues sounds good in the short term. But it is terrible in the long term and will result in burnout.
Certain problems from this list refer to employees, and others belong to managers. But since the whole team draws out the stability from the interdependent working relationships, a flexible working schedule creates problems on the level of the whole organization.
How to Create a Flexible Schedule with Virtual Teams
The first mistake you are making is the mindset that these traps are unavoidable and that you can’t do anything about them. Virtual work with global freelancers provides opportunities to solve all flexible work problems. Furthermore, you can scale and grow your business beyond what you can achieve by working in the standard office hours.
Flexitime is not for everyone. If you don’t want to take accountability for your work, you may prefer having a strict schedule.
But drawing power from inflexibility is not what drives a leadership mindset. Usually, the greatest growth accumulates by being aware and acting upon bottlenecks that others can’t see. So, if you remain open to seeing possibilities in those flexible spaces can help you expand yourself and your business.
Where do you start?
Create consistency in your working hours to avoid mixing your work life and your private life. Schedule working hours and create an office within the home if necessary by assigning a desk. Organize the workspace to serve you in performing your business to the maximum.
Keep focus by limiting distractions – create tasks lists and use the time prioritization model to separate your key activity time, others time, and blindspot time.
By being consistent in your approach to organizing your flexible working schedule, you can reduce the poor work/life balance, limit the work-at-home issues, and release your most time-consuming procrastinators.
Use asynchronous communication and limit video meeting time. Because you can work virtually and get access to global talent from people worldwide, you can’t share the same working hours, and asynchronous communication will not be much of a choice anyway.
But what is asynchronous communication exactly? It is any type of communication where you don’t need to share the same time slot and space (physical or digital) to communicate with your business partners. Email is an example. Recorded video or audio messages are other examples.
If you feel exhausted by too many Zoom calls, it is time to replace them with efficient meeting scheduling. Eliminate time-wasters by setting meeting slots and a meeting agenda ahead of time. Learn how to ask people to respect your meeting time by watching this video:
Such communication solves not only the virtual communication problem for people working globally but is also a productivity booster and a leadership tool – you spend most of your active time on key activities.
If you feel that asynchronous virtual communication decreases your sense of team belonging, consider adding social time to your schedule or set up team energizers to fight team isolation. Just make sure you know that this is your time to socialize.
Remember: Although the communication is asynchronous, it still needs to have structure. Structure in this context still means having some communication rules – it is just the rules are different and more adapted to the flexible working hours of the team.
Take charge of your role as a manager and support your team in taking charge of their responsibilities. You need committed team members to achieve this, and commitment is created through clarity in roles, goals, and KPIs.
Leadership through results, which is hiring and managing people based on the results they deliver rather than through control, is the basis of creating a structure on a flexible schedule.
Rather than by strict hierarchical rules, the structure is created by the values that hold the team and the organization as a whole because everyone on the team strives for the same results and business goals.
How to Manage Global Virtual Teams: Liberating Structures for Organizational Growth
Learn more about creating a flexible working schedule with a global team of freelancers by watching the video below:
Get insights about:
- How to choose talent that will support your business while working flexibly
- Hybrid vs. onsite and offsite teams – pros and cons
- Intercultural aspects of virtual work and how to use them to your advantage
- Command and control when working in a complex global environment
Create time flexibility with a flexible virtual team. Click below to get your blueprint now and start scaling!