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Tim Stone

Polycom

VP EMEA Marketing

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“As a manager of flexible workers, it is important to put trust in your team.”

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Tim Stone is Vice President Marketing EMEA at Polycom and will be speaking at the Agile Working Event to be held on March 29th in London. 

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Lots of companies would love a 'no holds barred' flexible working policy but are terrified of giving up control. How did you guys overcome this?

Tim Stone, Polycom: I have worked in a ‘flexible working’ environment for over 15 years, and if anything it has made me a better manager.

As a manager of flexible workers, it is important to put trust in your team. One example I can talk about is, in marketing you are often a manager of women and one of the  requirements is childcare duties.

As a manager these types of scenarios can be managed effectively if you are able offer a level of flexibility, then it becomes a win-win situation for all. They are able to meet their personal requirements, and the organization is able to retain their talent as a result.

At Polycom, our philosophy is to ensure people have the right tools and environment to be able to do their jobs to get the best outcome. Another thing companies in this situation need to overcome is the ‘presenteeism culture’ we often see in large corporates.

In fact a survey we just ran globally found the biggest fear of adoption (after 64% said actually having the technology would help them work flexibly) is the worry that others will think they are being ‘lazy’.

If as a business you make the conscious culture shift to measure people on results through SMART objectives, this should diffuse any worries or concerns individuals and managers may have.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: If specific cohorts of workers just aren't ready for flexible working, how can you prepare them?

Tim Stone, Polycom: Flexible means flexible. People can work in the office if that is what they want – no problem. Some prefer to and do.

Usually they ease into it [flexible working] gradually and get used to it. Often the best scenario for many workers is just giving them the option or choice to work flexibly when they need to. 

Many workers still like to come in and have faceto-face meetings with their teams on some days, and then work from their home office due to personal commitments or the need to concentrate or focus on a key task.

Personally that is how I and many of my team work this way and it enables us to be productive in our face-to-face dealings.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: Totally open flexible working policies require good line managers to maintain and nurture a trusting, outcome-focused relationship. What tips do you have for businesses looking to achieve this?

Tim Stone, Polycom: Businesses looking to achieve this can follow these tips –

  • Culture switch: It needs to be common knowledge that the business is actively encouraging this change across the organization. That message should be communicated by the leadership so everyone is offered the choice equally.
  • Regular tracking/reporting against goals: Ensure individuals meet with their manager to regularly set and review goals / objectives – and review status of those at least bi-weekly.
  • Communicate: Encourage stakeholders / peer groups regularly using collaboration technologies to meet regularly to stay on top of targets and the agenda. ‘All hands’ style meetings are a good way to stay in touch with everyone in the organisation: if using collaboration technologies, people can attend from multiple locations and the content can be recorded and shared. It will always help to have the right tools in place.

Jamie Lawrence, Editor, HRZone: What are the flexible working trends of 2017?

Tim Stone, Polycom: By the end of 2016, 60% of the global working population were taking advantage of ‘anywhere working’ benefits.

This was driven by the need for businesses to react more quickly to market changes and local legislation driving greater requirement to offer flexible working.

And as wellbeing and mindfulness become more of a focus in the workplace, we at Polycom predict that 2017 will see an even bigger rise in the adoption of ‘anywhere working’ practices and technologies.

Acquisition and retention of talent still remains a key challenge for many organizations. The companies that offer the most flexibility, and nurture an ‘anywhere working’ culture will attract and retain the top talent.

So, business leaders will need to support and encourage their employees to shift from a culture of presenteeism to a culture of working anywhere A top priority to achieve this culture will be providing employees with the right collaboration tools to enable them to work seamlessly across geographic locations.

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Tim Stone

VP EMEA Marketing

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