FLG Chief People Officer, Amy Uthe, shares strategies and tips for successfully implementing flexible work practices while maintaining a culture of teamwork and positivity for a geographically dispersed company.
Freedom Learning Group (FLG) prides ourselves on providing flexible, and meaningful career opportunities for our fully-remote workforce spanning 40 states and ten countries. We are committed to building new models for learning and upskilling, along with new pathways to economic opportunity. Founded by a Military family, FLG entered the educational courseware industry with a cutting-edge business model intentionally designed to fit the needs of Military Spouses while keeping them competitive in their respective professional fields. Today, our mission has expanded to include all displaced professionals, especially women, as they, too, are experiencing drastic unemployment rates.
From home offices around the world, our team is committed to our people, our community, and our business. This stems from company values cultivated around five pillars: Community Service, Company Culture, Diversity and Inclusion, Employee Engagement, and Learning and Development. We prioritize empowering our talent community to truly work in a flexible career that best fits their schedule and capacity. One of the easiest ways to enhance this flexibility and to ensure its success, is to have a leadership team that leads by example.
In addition to the tips below, FLG intentionally practices no internal meetings on Fridays to promote additional flexibility and heads-down work time.
- Utilize calendars as the source of truth
- Set your work hours and respect other’s work hours.
- Block time to get work completed.
- Block time to decompress or step away from the screen.
- Always include PTO on your calendar.
- If you are required to work “off” hours to accommodate others’ schedules, be sure to compensate by giving yourself that time back during your “standard” business hours.
- Build in breaks between meetings.
- Can 30 minute meetings convert to 25 minutes? Can 60 minute meetings convert to 50 minutes?
- Respect other team members’ calendars – always check before scheduling a meeting.
- Set agendas, add them to calendar invites, and stick to them.
- Email best practices
- If you’re working during “off” hours, schedule your emails to send during “standard” business hours.
- Add a line above your signature block to read “If you are receiving this email outside of your typical working hours, I hope you feel no pressure to read or respond until your schedule and workload permit.”
- Utilize the subject line to help recipients prioritize.
- Include clear action items, deadlines, and other expectations in every email.
- Always put on your “out of office” and list at least one point of contact.
- If someone you’re emailing is on PTO consider waiting to send the email until the individual returns to work.
- If there is an email thread with several individuals be sure to check your entire inbox and read ALL responses before you respond.
- Video conferencing etiquette
- When you are in a video meeting with a group, always be sure to place yourself on mute when you are not speaking, especially if you are in a noisy place.
- Remember to dress appropriately even if a meeting is virtual. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t wear something to an office, it probably isn’t appropriate for video calls.
- Working remotely can make it difficult to establish relationships. One way to make it a little easier is to have your camera on while you are in a video conference.
- Ensure all meetings start and end on time so as to be respectful of everyone’s schedules.
- General Tips
- Lead by example. Set personal boundaries and stick to them.
- Trust is everything, especially when working across timezones.
- Communication, Communication, Communication. It is key to a successful working relationship with colleagues and clients.
- Encourage an environment where individuals are comfortable asking for help, asking questions, and suggesting new ideas/solutions.
- Prioritize respect. This includes respect for colleagues, clients, the company mission, and personal respect.
- Take time to get to know your colleagues on a personal level. Schedule virtual coffees, team get togethers, collaboration sessions, etc.
How does your organization, remote or in-person, value flexibility? Share your thoughts and best practices!
We are committed to our people, our communities and our business.
We are Freedom Learning Group.
If you are an FLG contributor looking to become more involved, consider joining our Business Resource Group (BRG). Our BRG is a voluntary, workforce-led body bringing all FLG Contributors together across the globe, fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace aligned with the organizational mission, values, goals, business practices, and objectives.