Output Driven Work Culture And Flexible Working

17th Oct 2022

For most companies, the days are gone where employees are tied to their desks (figuratively speaking, we hope), clockwatching until it's time to go home and being anxious about being the first one to leave. 

Becoming a flexible workplace opens the doors to creating an output-driven culture which focuses on productivity. Work should not be measured by hours spent at your desk or screen, but by output and results. 

We firmly believe that one of the great leaps forward in the knowledge sector is a focus on an output-driven culture. However, developing a work culture that genuinely focuses on valuable outputs can be somewhat challenging. 

We’ll discuss a few ways to bring output-driven work culture to life.

Buy-in and communication

Creating meaningful organisational change is underpinned by excellent communication and broad buy-in from all stakeholders. Frequently, companies set out with great intentions to revolutionise work culture and focus on quality employee outputs, but fall at the first hurdle due to a lack of buy-in. 

Simply put, if employees do not believe their performance will be rewarded based on their actual output, behaviours will remain “stuck” in old cycles

The leadership team must communicate that the company is not interested in time spent at a desk or screen and that employees will be rewarded/promoted based on hitting their targets, regardless of how they are met. Communicating clearly to employees (and subsequently demonstrated in leadership behaviours) creates a bridge for employees to move from the old world of negative behaviour reinforcement to a more productive world where positive behaviours are valued.

Leadership behaviours

Sadly, poor role modelling is a common pitfall when rolling out a more output-driven work culture. There is limited value in communicating to employees that they will be judged purely on the merits of their actions and outcomes if senior leadership continue to demonstrate toxic behaviour. 

Will graduates, middle managers, etc. change their own behaviours if they witness their leadership teams continue to fall into the old routines of clock watching or, worse, overworking? Very unlikely. 

Actual change comes from the top.

Measurability

Lack of measurability is one of the greatest downfalls of the modern workplace. Without a measurable framework to track our outcomes, we do not know whether we are genuinely succeeding. 

It’s vital that employees are given clear and measurable results in each reporting period (usually quarters) and that these are reviewed with their line manager regularly. 

If a team member is hitting or surpassing all their targets (and, of course, not negatively impacting others), who cares when, where or even how often they’re working? 

Of course, one of the great fallacies of the modern workplace is that not everyone can have measurable targets, whilst in some roles, it might be easier to demonstrate results than others.

Right KPIs vs Wrong KPIs – what actually matters?

Of course, we don’t just want outputs to be measurable, we want to be measuring the right things. Focusing on irrelevant KPIs encourages negative behaviour by focusing on the wrong outputs. 

Example:

A customer service agent might be measured on the number of customer interactions they make in a given time period (i.e. the longer the total time spent, the more impressive the KPI score); however, unless there is an accompanying customer satisfaction score, this measurement will detrimentally focus on quantity over quality.

To set teams up for success, we need to think carefully and choose KPIs that will reinforce positive behaviour and not simply reward maintaining the status quo.

Where flexible working comes into play

Enabling employees' freedom and choice around how and where they work best and, of course, most productively is one key area to creating an output-driven work culture. By opting to embrace the world of flexible working, it creates a new dynamic helping to shift from toxic work cultures to more positive behaviours. 

“At Flexa, we’ve always been laser-focused on building an output-driven work culture. All of the founding team have experienced workplaces that rewarded time spent in the office rather than time spent being productive, so we were very keen to avoid building a similar culture in our business!” 

Molly Johnson-Jones - Co-Founder at Flexa Careers

Ultimately, the goal of any business is to improve its bottom line, and employees want a work-life balance where work doesn’t hinder their personal life. Workplace flexibility solves this! Again, companies need to reinforce the idea that if a team member is hitting or surpassing all their targets without negatively impacting others, it shouldn't matter where or how they work.