Scheduling for 'Real Life'

Scheduling for 'Real Life'

img_0208_640x427_0.jpgManchester firm reaps benefits of flexibility

By Edie Allard, New Hampshire Business Review
Published: July 14, 2015

The average employee schedule at Image 4, a Manchester company specializing in the design and installation of branded spaces, may look a little unusual.

One employee, recovering from an operation, is working from home with a portable system purchased for her. The accountant works from home two days a week to take care of his dogs. The project manager is stepping out early to attend his child’s concert, but he came in at 6 a.m. to get ahead on his project. A medical appointment could cause an employee to come in late, but he may decide to stay even later to finish his work.

This flexibility is the product of Image 4’s alternative scheduling system, developed in the early 1990s and still proving its effectiveness today. CEO Jeff Baker says the “flex schedule” environment was developed when the company realized that it would lose good employees if it didn’t adapt to their everyday needs.

“It kind of forced us to change our thinking about the work [they] did and how we were managing it,” he said.

At Image 4, there is no adhesion to the typical, rigid work schedule. Employees have the ability to form their work week based on their own personal necessities.

The key to a successful transition to flex scheduling is to change from what Baker calls “task-oriented” management to “outcome-oriented” management.

Using outcome-oriented metrics, an employee is given only a project and a deadline, but no details about how the deadline should be met. This makes people feel empowered, allowing them to take control of their work life and their workflow.

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