It’s the happiest time of the year… for everyone who’s home. But for the millions of Americans who work for most of the “holiday season,” traffic, weather, and stress over handling family obligations and long commutes to work can make it anything but.
In fact, with mounting obligations ranging from having kids home from school to decorating, to making preparations for family gatherings or trips, many employees will drop productivity and motivation over the holidays.
Many organizations simply can’t afford to simply stop work for 2-3 weeks out of the year, but flex work, where employees can simply choose to work from home on most days, is often a happy middle ground.
Here, individuals can continue to contribute and complete projects either from the office or remotely, depending on personal preference and the day. This gives everyone the freedom to work when and where is most convenient, so they can keep the figurative wheels of projects or the company turning, while having more time and freedom to work on their own preparations.
Working from home can save a considerable amount of time, especially for individuals who work in or around big cities. The average American commute is 26.9 minutes each way, or just under an hour a day.
During holiday periods when more people are off work, people are shopping, and visiting families and traffic is bad. In fact, companies like Infix show that 122+ million Americans pack up and drive to destinations over the Christmas season. That can more than triple the chance of traffic congestion, greatly increasing commute times and late times.
Allowing individuals to simply work from home removes those commutes, saving potentially hours a day that your employee can spend on their own pursuits. They won’t be late because they simply have to log into a computer, which also saves your company money. And, they’ll be happier and less frustrated without having to brave slick or icy and congested roads.
If your organization already has video conferencing and calling set up as a standard service, you can simply switch teams to doing so over the holidays. Virtual communication using video is the next-best-thing to talking in person, because most people will still see body language and other non-verbal communication you simply wouldn’t see over the phone or via chat.
In addition, most video conferencing tools integrate directly into tooling like Slack, so teams can switch to video calls seamlessly. While you can and should ensure that teams have formal meetings with the full team over the period, supporting fast and informal calls is every bit as valuable. To do so, you only have to ensure teams are equipped with quality headsets, video conference tooling, and laptops with a camera or a separate camera for home usage.
If you have a strong virtual network setup, your employees can continue to work, and likely seamlessly. This is especially true if you’re using technology like virtual computers or already issue laptops to employees, so they can simply take work home.
Virtual computing means approved persons can log into your network from home to access resources, server files, and tooling. However, you can also use VPN with remote access to offer access to data, applications, stacks, and any other resources you have.
One report by the Society for Human Resources Management included a poll where 72% of respondents claimed to have taken unplanned leave before and after public holidays such as Christmas, New Year’s, or Hanukkah. People simply need more time over the holidays for diverse reasons.
Flex work allows your teams to fit work where they can and focus on family, preparations, and parties when they want to. So, if your employee has to be at their child’s hockey game, a Christmas recital, wants to hang lights, prepare food, or drive across the country, they can.
Most importantly, they can do so without suddenly having to take a day off, call in sick, or simply not show up.
Flex work allows you to combat exhaustion, overwork, and simply not having enough time. People can stay home if they want and spend time with family, while finishing their work.
They can avoid going out in what is normally one of the worst months for weather of the year. And, in the case they want a break from family and whatever chaos is happening at home, they can still do that.
You’re essentially giving everyone in your office the option to work how and where is most convenient or desired. And, if that means completing their entire workload in the first half of the week and taking everything else off, that’s fine for everyone involved.
Establishing flex work can benefit your organization year-round, because it gives employees the option to work when convenient, contributing to a better work-life balance. Over the holidays, it saves even more time and stress, simply because traffic, bad weather, and more to do at home and in social circles can contribute to exhaustion, stress, and distraction.
Establishing flex work means you need appropriate remote-work standards and technologies in place such as quality networks, VPN, video conferencing technology, and teams have to be organized.
Other than that, you often simply have to assign work in a way that flex work supports (typically by ensuring work is goal oriented rather than hourly), and you can easily make the switch. Once you do, you’ll notice the difference in employee motivation, happiness, and trust.
Taking steps to get ready for the holidays means IT teams will have more freedom to spend time away for the holidays, with fewer business costs and fewer likely incidences. In most cases, these measures, including work-from-home and flex work, remote network management, and automation will benefit your business year-round.