The desire for flexible work is not new. Advances in technology and societal trends have gradually encouraged businesses to adapt their workplace practices to aid better work-life balance, making flexible work arrangements a possibility for many workers in the last decade.

What is new is that with the wider adoption and sudden prioritisation of remote work introduced by COVID-19, employees now have a better understanding of the pros and cons of remote work, as well as their personal working preferences. Meanwhile, employers have realised the complexities involved in managing a hybrid workforce (on-site and off-site) and, the possibilities that exist with new ways of working. Organisations have learnt they can let go of their fears that it would lead to a significant loss of productivity or operational challenges. In many cases, employers can see how the combination of on-site and off-site work might give them a competitive advantage when it comes to talent management, employer brand and employee retention.

Since the pandemic hit, employees have gained a better understanding of the pros and cons of remote work. Click To Tweet

Given this mutual understanding, and, knowing that flexible work will remain part of the normal business rhythms post-pandemic, it’s a good idea for teams to create flexible team charters.

What is a team charter?

A charter is a way to provide a framework for working together that marries the needs of the business and team with the aspirations of team members. The charter can address a variety of things, such as scheduling working hours, determining what merits a meeting compared to an email, setting expectations for email response times—especially outside of the normal workday—and establishing what mode to use for communication.

A team charter is essentially a roadmap, co-created by everyone in the team to ensure buy-in, that defines the purpose of the team, how it will work, and what the expected outcomes are. It can help instil a sense of fairness and empowerment since it clarifies goals, values, and norms of behaviours of team members.

A team charter can help instil a sense of fairness and empowerment since it clarifies goals, values, and norms of behaviours of team members. Click To Tweet

How to successfully implement team charters

  1. Secure sponsorship from leaders. Leaders set the tone for this type of initiative and must show they’ve fully accepted a flexible work culture and trust that this will work for their employees.
  2. Articulate the organisational purpose and strategy. Leaders should share their roadmaps for the organization, including their mission and vision, with the team, so they can align their purpose and strategies with those of the overall business.
  3. Guide people managers in how to facilitate teams. They will need to develop certain people skills as they manage flexible, yet complex, hybrid work environments. They might be faced with situations where they need to reassure employees concerned about how flexible arrangements may affect their own performance.
  4. Look at charter arrangements on a pilot basis. Establish quantitative and qualitative measures, so you can gauge the success of these initiatives and be in a position to share success stories with the rest of the business.
  5. Offer a platform where teams can build their charters online. Not only does this support a positive employee experience, but it also means you can track the progress of these charters and identify potential agreements to replicate across the business.

By creating and committing to team charters, companies empower their people to create the solutions that the business needs to keep employees engaged and motivated while they navigate to the next phase of the future of work.

To learn more, watch our future of work trends video: Team Charters, 5 min:

Discover four trends shaping the future of work.

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About the contributor

Jenny Smyth is a trusted advisor to senior leaders and human resources professionals in the areas of organisation design, performance management, total rewards management and the employee experience.

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