Flexibility in the workplace means quickly adapting to changing circumstances and expectations. The concept of workplace flexibility isn’t exactly new—but it’s more important than ever before. With the COVID-19 crisis, flexible work trends are on the rise as employees and employers alike learn to roll with the punches.
Fortunately, these changes are in an organization’s best interest. Studies from Global Workplace Analytics show that adopting flexible policies can lead to big wins, ranging from improved employee satisfaction, reduced attrition, and increased productivity. Here, we’ll explore how to create a flexible workplace and an agile workforce ready to tackle any challenge.
- Definition: Workplace Flexibility
- Flexibility for Employees
- Flexibility for Employers
- What Are the Benefits of Workplace Flexibility?
- Examples of Workplace Flexibility
- Managing Flexibility in the Workplace
Workplace flexibility is a strategy that can be adopted by both employees and employers. For employees, flexibility in the workplace may mean modifying their approach to different tasks and assignments. For employers, creating a flexible workplace means making an effort to accommodate the specific needs of each employee.
There is a strong correlation between flexibility and productivity. Employees with the autonomy and freedom they need to get their work done are more productive, more creative, and more satisfied.
In the current climate, many organizations have had to think of new ideas and strategies to optimize flexibility. Telecommuting has become the norm, and more and more businesses are implementing shifts to avoid over-populating the workplace. Employees have had to adjust, learning to use new tools, and self-managing more than ever before. Businesses that take a more flexible approach during these times will ultimately be more successful.
Employees can adopt an attitude of flexibility in the workplace by taking into account the needs of the organization. They may adopt a flexible work style, able to change course or approach as needed. Organizations can re-skill or up-skill employees so that they are able to take on a broader range of tasks, and move their career forward.
In return for their dedication, employees expect consideration. Studies show that employees overwhelmingly prefer workplaces that are flexible. In a Flexjob survey, 80% of employees said they would be more loyal to an organization with flexible scheduling options.
Having a flexible workplace may mean that employees can take a long lunch to bring a relative to the doctor, can work from home a few days a week, or can work more hours for a shorter workweek. In short: No matter what form it takes, flexibility leads to satisfied, productive employees.
A flexible workplace accommodates different employee workstyles and needs. Depending on the industry, businesses may be able to offer flexibility in terms of time or place. For example, flexible scheduling policies may include offering nontraditional hours, longer breaks, or unlimited PTO. Meanwhile, remote work options will give employees the opportunity to work from home, in the nearest cafe, or on sandy beaches half-a-world away.
By introducing workplace flexibility programs, employers don’t only boost morale and improve employee well-being. They also create an atmosphere of personal responsibility that supports employees working more efficiently. Micro-management is so 2019. Trusting employees to manage their own time and effort is the best way for organizations to navigate the current crisis and move forward.
However, there are good reasons flexibility was on the rise even in pre-pandemic times. Creating a flexible workplace can lead to a lot of secondary benefits for organizations.
Flexibility in the workplace is good for employees’ mental health and for an employer’s bottom line. Here are some improvements that accompany increased flexibility:
Improved Talent Pool
Implementing workplace flexibility is key for talent attraction. Not only are employees more eager to work for a flexible organization, but offering flexible work hours or remote work options broadens the talent pool that employers can hire from. Businesses will no longer be restricted to employees who live nearby. Instead, they can source top talent from anywhere in the world. Flexible hours also mean that skilled employees will no longer be turned away because of something as superficial as scheduling conflicts.
One of the most costly challenges an organization faces is employee attrition. In 2019, employees left their jobs in record numbers. The costs of recruiting, onboarding, and training an employee can amount to up to twice the employee’s annual salary. Thus, it is in an employer’s best interest to keep turnover down. Employees definitely value workplace flexibility— so much so that many would take a pay cut if it meant having more flexible hours. In short: creating a flexible workplace makes employees stick around, therefore reducing hiring costs.
Strengthens Employer Brand
Offering flexibility is a great way to improve the employer brand. This is important because, according to LinkedIn’s Global Recruiting Trends, 80% of employers agree that branding has a significant impact on their ability to hire talented employees. Creating a culture of workplace flexibility reduces occupational stress. That then leads to improved creativity and a better work-life balance for employees and employers.
While some employers are skeptical that flexible work arrangements will result in the same productivity as traditional arrangements, they should know that flexibility actually increases productivity. Here are some ways that organizations are implementing flexibility in the workplace and in the process reducing stress for employers and employees.
Workplace Flexibility Examples
- Flextime: Employers with a flextime policy allow their workers to stagger arrival and departure times as needed. For instance, an employee with a young child may choose to start work at 7:00 am in order to finish at 3:00 pm, so that they can supervise after school.
- Compressed Workweek: With this approach, employees work the same number of hours within a shorter workweek. For example, an employee might work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
- Remote Work: Offering telecommuting or remote work options means that employees can work from outside of the office. Some employees may prefer a regular schedule (i.e. working from home every Wednesday) while others may make use of the option in order to travel or meet out-of-work obligations. Make sure your employees are fully prepared with remote work best practices.
- Permanent Part-Time Arrangement: Businesses can provide this option for employees who may prefer the flexibility of a part-time job.
- Freelancing: Many businesses hire freelancers as a flexible workforce. This isn’t always a sustainable option, but sometimes it can be a great arrangement for all parties.
When designing a talent management policy, businesses must make sure that they have a system in place to properly manage their employees. An all-in-one software like Factorial can help employers track hours, shifts, and time-off easily and efficiently. That way, they can offer employees flexibility and work-life wellness without a headache. Remember, the best workplace flexibility practices for your business will vary depending on your organization’s size and needs. In other words, finding what works for you is the first step to creating a flexible workplace for employees and employers to enjoy.