With the increased technological developments taking over the global economy and the increased emphasis on promoting work-life balance among employees, more companies are developing flexible working policies.

However, for flexible work policies to be successfully implemented, there must be strong trust between the manager and the employees. Lack of trust may cause manager-employee tensions as well as negatively affect the overall productivity of the company.

The Role of Communication

One of the most important ingredients in building trust between the manager and employees is effective communication. As a manager, this means communicating to remote workers about your expectations; both concerning general performance and specific organizational tasks.

In addition to that, it is also important to let your remote workers know your expectations about communication. This includes specifying details on the channels to use and the frequency with which to communicate.

By clearly outlining performance and communication expectations, it is possible to know whether virtual employees are starting to misuse the flexibility that you have afforded them. For example, some employees may start to miss communication times or miss task deadlines without any meaningful reasons.

Dealing with Employees Who Take Advantage of Flexibility

No matter which steps you take, some employees may still end up misusing the flexibility of their working patterns. If this happens, it would be important to:

1. Diagnose the Problem

As soon as you notice any red flags suggesting that an employee is taking advantage of his/her flexibility, it is important to talk to the worker about it. This would include highlighting the red flags you have noticed and asking for an explanation from the affected worker. This step may be implemented virtually or face-to-face.

2. Remain Calm and Rational

Many managers often react with anger and disappointment when they notice that employees are taking advantage of flexible work schedules. However, it is important to remain calm and rational; focusing on understanding the root cause of the diagnosed problem.

3. Work with the Affected Employee on a Solution

Once the problem has been diagnosed and the underlying reasons for it identified, it is advisable to work together with the affected employee and come up with a proposed solution to the issue at hand. Coming up with a shared solution is meant to enhance the self-motivation of virtual employees to improve their working patterns.

4. Follow Up on Progress

It is important to follow up on the progress that the affected employee is making in improving his/her flexible working patterns. Following up will also allow you to know whether the employee is really serious about his/her intentions to change. Be sure to document all the monitoring and evaluation findings.

5. Terminate if Need Be

Some employees may remain unwilling to change and turn their performance around. If this is the case, it may be necessary to terminate the worker in question.