The key to managing a flexible workforce is people

Heidi Ayton explains why putting the ‘human’ back into human resources has helped her company see the benefits of abandoning the 9-5

Today’s workforce no longer just wants flexible working opportunities – it expects them. Research by Timewise found that 87 per cent of the UK’s full-time workers either currently work flexibly or would like to do so.

With this shift, it’s unsurprising that HR teams are focused on overcoming the logistical challenges that come with managing a flexible workforce. When analysing the best solutions for your business, the focus should remain on how the change can help to create a positive workplace culture that delivers results for the organisation.

A flexible workforce is something we’ve built into the very heart of Croud. We’ve nurtured a network of more than 1,600 specialist digital marketers – called ‘Croudies’ – who work flexibly alongside our full-time employees. This means our clients have access to the best specialist for each micro-job, as needed, without the limitations of working with a traditional agency. As a result we have access to a much broader pool of amazing talent.

We’re not constrained by geographical locations, or obliged to hire people who can commit to regular working hours. We work with talented individuals who want the flexibility of being able to work at the time, pace and price they want, while we (and our clients) benefit from their experience and skills.

We knew we needed the right tools and processes in place to make this model successful. As such, we made a significant investment to help us manage this disparate workforce, and build a positive culture for Croudies to experience. But what does that mean on a practical level? 

One team, one platform

We built our own bespoke management tool to match our unique business model. We called this proprietary platform Croud Control. This is where full-time employees and Croudies manage all workflows, including assigning jobs, reporting and invoicing. It’s a one-stop shop that allows people to manage everything they need to do their job.

Self-service help centre

Our Croudies are located in 107 markets across the world, which means we’re available to our clients 24 hours a day. We built a self-service help centre so our team can get help at any time of day. It instantly provides answers to the majority of questions people have. If there is a more personal request, we have a ticketing system that allows us to follow up in a controlled way.

Putting the ‘human’ into human resources

It is important that businesses make sure the entire workforce feels part of the company’s culture, regardless of their working hours or location. This can be done through big and small gestures, like celebrating personal achievements and supporting them through difficult times. We have a ‘Croudie of the month’ scheme, which rewards two individuals from our remote workforce every month.

We have also built the Croud Academy – a training tool for our Croudies – as there is a lot to gain from supporting their professional development. It’s something Croudies really value; 43 per cent of them have completed more than five courses. It’s this training that’s cited as a positive reason for working at Croud and has helped us to achieve a Croudie feedback score of eight out of 10.

The key to successfully managing a flexible workforce is about building a culture that attracts and retains the best people – and to do that you need to have the right tools in place to help all staff feel part of the team. The future of the workplace is changing, and the importance of HR is increasing tenfold. Get the processes right now and you’ll reap the benefits in the long run.

Heidi Ayton is director of HR and operations at Croud