Team conflict - and how to avoid it when some work flexibly

Flexible working has huge potential to bring masses of positivity to your workplace - from improved morale and lower stress levels, through improved organisational performance. 

But on the other hand, if some members of staff are working flexibly, remotely or part-time (whilst others are in the office 9-to-5), this can lead to negativity, a bad atmosphere and team conflict.

20 November 2018

Whilst the positive benefits of flexible working are well-documented, recent studies point to it also being at the root of some negativity.

So what causes these issues and what is the solution? And how can businesses eliminate any negativity - before it starts to impact on team morale? Here are our top five tips:

1. Process is King

Ensure you have clear processes in place. This will help your team remain focused and efficient, whilst ensuring that everyone knows where to find the information that they need. Be patient and considerate; work through potential scenarios and involve the whole team in putting effective processes in place - ones that work for both full- and part-timers.

2. Communication is crucial

Make sure that everyone within your team understands who’s working, where and when. Manage expectations and keep communication channels open, so that any concerns around flexible workers not being kept in the loop can be quashed early on.

3. Keep an open mind

Just as staff with non-flexible contracts might occasionally change their work pattern, flexible workers need to stay flexible with flexibility. If remote workers are seen to be pitching in when projects run over, this will remind the wider staff network that everyone’s pulling together as a team - wherever they happen to be based.

It’s also worth being as transparent as possible about what flexible working patterns are available to employees - and make it clear that it's not simply an option for working parents.This demonstrates to all staff that the process is fair and open to all.

4. Tech support

With collaborative apps such as Trello, Slack, Google Drive, Asana and Evernote, it’s easy for colleagues to stay in touch - whether they're working remotely or based in the office. It keeps all actions and conversations in one easy-to-access space and makes handovers run much more smoothly.

5. Boost team culture

If staff don’t see their colleagues for long periods of time, or feel that there colleagues are getting a better balance and work less, conflicts can go unresolved - and this can lead to stress. An important aspect of helping staff feel connected (and to prevent negative associations with flexible working becoming a problem) is engagement.

Consider arranging social events, either during the day - lunch and learn or coffee catch ups, or after work events (although ensure you vary the times as flexible workers often have to leave early). This allows employees who work at different times or in different locations to get together and bond.

If you want to increase the flexibility in your team, get in touch to see how we can help - we often recruitment services and also consultancy, to help embed effective working in your existing teams.