Is your team working remotely? Use “Reduced Availability” to boost productivity and keep colleagues

February 14, 2022

In this article, we look at the concept of limited employee availability. Of course, we all instinctively know that times occur when we might well have some free time to work remotely on a project or times when we are mostly unavailable but might be able to contribute with an opinion or a small task here and there. When team members are working remotely, there’s a need to share such status or information in a way that will help improve overall productivity and keep others informed.

What is limited employee availability?

Are you available on Tuesday afternoon to work on an important project? Is your time already booked, or are you on leave? Most leave planners allow you to input such information easily, so your colleagues at other locations know in advance if you are free. But often, such a binary statement misses many of the subtleties of working and especially in remote working. For example, while you might anticipate being busy on Tuesday, you also know that you could easily spare some time to contribute to a significant project that really could benefit from your input. Or perhaps you might become unexpectedly free for some hours during the week, and you need to alert the rest of the remote team regarding your unexpected availability. This works both ways, either you are free for more work or you’ve suddenly become busy with important work but not to an extent where you’re not available at all.

In other words, you need a third option to the binary free or occupied situation, and it’s what we at LeaveWizard refer to as “Limited Employee Availability”. This is especially when your team is distributed and perhaps even working asynchronously with varying work patterns and in different time zones.

When might you have limited availability?

There are several scenarios when you might have limited availability to work on a task or just help. Usually, if your current workload occupies just 80% of your working time, you could say that you have up to 20% of your time to work on an additional project. Thus, you can announce that you have limited availability of 20% of your usual workweek as limited availability. But, of course, if your top priority occupies just 20% of your work time, then you could consider that you have 80% time of limited availability.

Another way you might have limited availability is if you seek to work additional hours, for instance, paid overtime or if you want to build up time in lieu (TOIL) to take some time off work sometime in the future. Of course, this would need an agreement with your management team, but many modern firms that embrace flexible working would consider this approach acceptable and might even encourage it. Of course, there must be rules and safeguards, but there shouldn’t be too many problems if you take a sensible approach.

A third scenario in which you might have limited availability is if you are involved with work-related activities such as a training course. For example, should training occupy just 60% of your working day, you could express your availability in terms of 40% limited availability.

Yet another situation is when you don’t know what your commitments might be in the coming days. Depending on circumstances, you might be needed on a project, or you might be free. In such a situation, you can’t express how much availability you might have, but you think it is likely to be limited. Again, you can indicate this on the LeaveWizard leave and absence management application as having limited availability.

Utilising team members workers with limited availability

Suppose you are managing a project and have sight of all team members’ calendars, including those working remotely. In that case, you can readily see which individuals have limited availability that you could utilise to advance your project goals. It is then a simple matter to contact them for more information on their ability to contribute to a specific task and include them in your work plan.

Essentially, this is an extra help that, without the ability to express limited employee availability, would not be readily accessible. Limited employee availability is a valuable tool on which many businesses miss out.