What key aspects should I consider when pondering a shift to a flexible work environment at my firm?

First, you will need a clear, well-thought-out plan of action.

First, you will need a clear, well-thought-out plan of action. Decide the scope of your company's policy and exactly what you are willing and able to offer. Some questions to consider: Is a liberal work-from-home policy appropriate? How many days per week should staffers be required to come to the office? Should employees be required to meet in person a set number of days per month?

Next, determine if the policy will be offered company-wide or to specific segment such as senior staff. The policy may not be right for everyone. It may make sense to have newer employees follow a more traditional schedule.

Third, be sure your firm's technology will support a flexible environment. You may need to offer laptops to staff or set up a network that allows remote log-in to work desktops. Also, consider the need to provide cell phones, PDAs, or reimbursement for minutes.

Develop a written policy that clearly outlines both employer and employee responsibilities and expectations. Have all staff read and sign it. It is always a good idea to consult a lawyer to discuss liabilities and help draft the document.

If you do choose to implement a flexible schedule, set up a review process to evaluate worker productivity within a clearly defined timeframe.

Nikki Robinson is director of finance and admin. at Strategic Communications Group.

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