Looking to improve your company’s workplace flexibility?
With all the curveballs 2020 has thrown us, like the Coronavirus pandemic, many employers are opting for a more flexible workplace approach.
Workplace flexibility is a smart way to increase employee satisfaction, and if done right, it can help you retain top talent and increase productivity.
In this article, we’ll provide an essential guide to workplace flexibility and how it can benefit your company. We’ll highlight 5 steps to increase workplace flexibility and some tips that both employers and employees would love.
This article contains:
(click on the links below to jump to a specific section)
- What Is Workplace Flexibility?
- What Are The Benefits of Flexible Work?
- 5 Step Guide To Increase Workplace Flexibility
- 4 Practical Tips To Boost Flexibility in the Workplace
Let’s get started.
What is workplace flexibility?
Contrary to popular belief, workplace flexibility is more than just remote work.
Flexible work highlights the willingness of an employer to adapt to employees’ changing needs, especially with regards to how, when, and where the work is done.
Essentially, it’s a strategy that you can choose to integrate into your company. And a flexible workplace is one that includes all types of flexible working arrangements.
What are some examples of workplace flexibility?
A Manpower Group study showed that job seekers found the two most attractive flexible workplace policies as:
- Deciding when they start and end shifts.
- Choosing where they work from.
However, workplace flexibility also includes a wide range of work arrangements like:
- Flexible scheduling, arrival, and departure times.
- Caregiving leave — particularly for a working parent.
- Work from home or remote work options (full or part-time).
- Compressed workweek or flexible hours.
- Opportunity for career breaks or sabbaticals, including extended leave.
What are the benefits of flexible work?
Here are some key benefits of flexible working arrangements, for both employers and employees.
A. Benefits for employees
1. Better work life balance
Flexible work arrangements like remote work can help employees get a grip on their work-life balance.
Instead of spending time getting ready for work or commuting, remote employees can start working quickly. They’ll also have more free time for their family, or to focus on hobbies and other interests.
Such flexible working conditions, in turn, lead to high employee morale and increased job satisfaction.
2. Increased sense of control
Employees who have a flexible working arrangement have an increased feeling of personal control over their work schedule and environment.
Employees have more freedom to create their own schedules and tasks. Whether they’re an early bird or a night owl, they can choose to work at the times they’re most productive.
3. Save on commute
Whether they travel by bus, train or car, a remote worker who skips the daily commute can save on travel expenses. Additionally, they also free up an hour or two of their schedule — which can be used to tackle work or personal needs.
B. Benefits for employers
1. Improved employee retention
Since employees have great job satisfaction due to greater workplace flexibility, you’ll be able to see rising employee retention rates within your company.
Why is this important?
Retaining more experienced employees will benefit the business because they’re more familiar with the work and industry. Improved employee retention will also save you time and money associated with hiring and training new recruits.
2. Greater employee productivity
When team loyalty, employee engagement, and retention improves, so does the company’s overall productivity and profitability.
Working in a flexible arrangement lets your employees work when they can focus better to get the job done quicker.
Absenteeism is also less of an issue with flexible remote work because employees don’t need to take an entire day off to run errands; they can plan their day around their busy personal schedule or take breaks in between.
3. Reduced overhead costs
When you encourage telework among employees, you can benefit from the reduced overhead costs associated with renting office space. Telework or working from home involves making use of the internet, email and telephone to conduct work.
How does this save costs?
By hiring remote workers to do the same job from their home office, you can save both time and money by reducing travel and real estate expenses.
Some of the costs you can save on include:
- Office rent and amenities.
- Utilities like WiFi and electricity.
- Software like telephones and computers.
5 step guide to increase workplace flexibility
Now that you understand the many ways a flexible workplace arrangement can benefit you and your employees, let’s explore some practical ways to increase workplace flexibility.
1. Investigate various types of flexible work arrangements
If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that traditional work policies are not necessary for success.
Several businesses were forced to adapt their working arrangements due to the COVID pandemic. However, not only did employees adapt easily, but they also thrived under flexible work structures such as remote working and flexible hours.
Find the right flexible work arrangement to suit your business and employee needs.
Part-time or half-day work can free up time for employees to meet their personal commitments. For example, employees who had to start home-schooling their children due to the pandemic get time to do so.
These flexible work arrangements have also become extremely sought-after by young workers and working parents who aren’t satisfied with the old-fashioned way of working.
For example, it may suit your company to have half its employees work in the morning and the other half in the afternoon. Parents who need to fetch their children from school may prefer the morning shift, and younger workers may prefer the afternoon shift so they can sleep in.
Ultimately, the right arrangement comes down to both business and employee requirements.
2. Provide the right resources for employees to succeed
In the past, the longer the hours an employee worked, the more likely they were to get promoted.
But this doesn’t need to happen anymore.
According to a study conducted by Stanford University, productivity per hour declines dramatically when a person works more than 50 hours a week.
With today’s workers, the quality of a person’s work and performance should speak for itself more than the actual hours put in for work.
Moreover, if employees feel that there’s room for growth within the organization, they’re likely to stay longer with the company.
So what can you do?
Look at how you make advancement decisions within your organization. Start by investing in the professional advancement of your employees.
Provide your team members with training and courses so that they can upskill themselves.
This is good for your corporate image as your company will attract and retain talented employees.
3. Create an open workplace culture
The key to employee satisfaction and retention in a flexible work environment is to have an open work culture.
Establish open communication with team members that work remotely and part-time employees.
Giving employees the space to share their experiences, ideas, concerns, etc. will allow them to feel valued — like they’re an integral part of the organization. A more engaged employee is more productive because they feel invested in the organization and its goals.
4. Implement a compressed workweek or flexible working hours
Improve your employee experience by permitting them to work flexible hours or offer them a compressed workweek.
You can also consider a flexible work schedule.
Here, employees work the standard forty-hour workweek over fewer days (for example, Monday to Thursday) or extended days (for example, forty hours split up over ten days).
A compressed or flexible schedule won’t affect the number of working hours the employee puts in, but it can give them a three-day weekend. A compressed workweek may be more attractive to the working parent or someone whose responsibilities include caring for dependents.
5. Take advantage of the tools available
Implementing a flexibility policy doesn’t need to be hard. Take advantage of the array of tools available for communication, time tracking, project management, and so on.
For example, you could introduce the use of employee productivity management software like Time Doctor to boost remote employee productivity. Additionally, tools like Trello or Jira help you stay on top of your projects and tasks with ease.
However, when choosing which tools to use, remember to go for ones that are easier to use and can accommodate the flexibility you have in mind.
Check out our in-depth review of the best remote work tools to find the ideal one for your needs.
4 practical tips to increase flexibility
Now that we’ve addressed the importance of greater flexibility in the workplace, and discussed some useful strategies, here are four practical tips for better flexibility:
1. Promote a flexible workplace attitude
Here are a few traits that both employers and employees in a flexible workplace should have:
Flexible employees are not rigid when it comes to tasks. They’re willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done, even if it’s not within their job description. They modify their approach based on the unique demands of a situation.
If you show your employees that you are flexible, they will reciprocate this flexibility when it comes to their commitment to work tasks.
B. Flexible with time
Flexible employers and employees are not bound by time constraints.
They can come in earlier to get a particular task done or work a day off or later hours than usual to accommodate project deadlines. Flexible employees understand these needs and can accommodate even while maintaining a good work-life balance.
C. Team player
Team players don’t mind picking up the slack if a colleague is on leave or off sick. In fact, flexible employees usually offer to do this, with the understanding that the same will be done for them.
2. Encourage telecommuting
COVID-19 has accelerated the move toward telecommuting, and for many people, this has become a permanent change.
Many employees prefer working out of the office, and telecommuting allows them to work from anywhere.
Thanks to modern technology, you can allow employees to work remotely and only come into the office whenever necessary. You can also go one step further and allow them to work from home full-time.
3. Set new policies and guidelines
Create rules or guidelines that can help your team adapt to workplace flexibility quicker.
Here are two things you can do:
A. Create a work from home policy
In a flexible work environment, most or all your employees will be working from home.
The policy should clearly detail topics like:
- Which employees can work from home.
- How to request to work from home.
- Working hours.
- Communication channels.
- IT support and equipment.
- Cybersecurity and confidentiality.
- Physical work environment.
- Grounds for termination.
You can either opt for a formal document that both parties sign or broadcast a set of guidelines that your employees are expected to follow.
B. Focus on data security
In a flexible workspace, cybersecurity can be a major concern. This is because networks are more securely protected and monitored within a physical office.
However, data security can be a challenge when your employees are working remotely.
To ensure the success of your flexible work strategy, you’ll need to establish data security measures or add them to your remote work policy.
Here are a few measures that you can include:
- Avoid public WiFi networks for official purposes.
- Always use a secure internet connection and a VPN.
- Never discuss confidential company information over calls in public.
- Don’t visit websites or apps that violate company policies.
Remember that data protection is vital to your company’s security and to avoid any legal issues.
4. Promote work life balance
As a flexible employer or manager, you should encourage employees to maintain a good work life balance by not over or underworking.
You don’t need to wait for a special circumstance to arise to give an employee time off. Encourage employees to take breaks if they are working in the office.
A flexible manager ultimately recognizes the needs of their employees and adapts their management style accordingly. For example, you can provide time off for working parents during school holidays.
Workplace flexibility is a strategy that is becoming increasingly popular as it emphasizes the ability to change according to circumstances.
The improved work life balance that workplace flexibility provides employees also leads to increased productivity — which positively impacts your company’s bottom-line.
Ultimately as a workplace strategy, workplace flexibility should benefit both employers and employees. Use the methods and tips mentioned here and your company can benefit from increased workplace flexibility easily.
Andy is a technology & marketing leader who has delivered award-winning and world-first experiences.