Flex Work in Progress: Redefining the Why and How, the Time is Now

Sophie Wade
4 min readJul 9, 2019

The future of distributed and flexible work was the focus as experts, practitioners, and aspiring flex-working executives convened for Fuze’s recent Flex Summit and discussed unleashing employee potential, shared experiences, and offered pragmatic ways forward. In addition to process, technologies, and tools, important emphasis was placed on relationship dynamics and soft skills — with trust and empathy highlighted. A clear message emerged: Flexible working is here to stay, it takes attention, it takes iterations, start somewhere!

We heard about the promise: Amex’s retention went up 43% when flexible working was offered; HubSpot has higher retention and engagement rates for remote workers compared with office workers. We heard too about the emerging imperative for all employees: Elizabeth Kiehner, Global Leader and Design Principal at IBM, explained that the social contract has evolved and been redefined — “employees want purpose, a flexible and compelling workplace, and rapid career growth.”

Distributed workers are not just employees, Michael Hopkins, co-Founder of The Solo Project, reminded us. 72 million people — almost half the US workforce — are expected to be working independently at least part-time by 2025. Whatever combination of remote employees and independent ‘soloists’ make up your blended and distributed workforce, they will benefit from a sense of belonging, a shared vision of the future, and being given a clear framework to guide them.

Ryan Merkley, CEO of Creative Commons, leads an organization that is entirely distributed. He attributes part of his success at managing across disperse locations to a number of specific, small, rules for meetings. To create an equitable, collective meeting experience, these mandatory directives include: everyone has a good headset; participants may not join meetings from noisy locations; there must be shared note-taking space; the agenda must be disseminated ahead of time.

In addition, openness helps ensure everyone stays informed and feels included, and operationally Merkley sees managers as critical players with a distributed workforce. Those that don’t engage fail. He stressed OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) not just for emphasizing outcomes — rather than facetime — but also honing in…

Sophie Wade

Workforce Innovator. Speaker. Author-Exec MBA textbk Embracing Progress. Integrating Empathy@Work in: leadership, multigeneration collaboration, remote working