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Workplace Flexibility: Finding Options to Suit Employees and the Business

Employees’ desire for work schedules that fit their lives isn’t going away anytime soon. Here’s how to implement a flexibility plan that benefits everyone.



Pandemic-related upheavals have resulted in a major makeover in how employees expect to go to work. For businesses, adapting to new and evolving standards of workplace flexibility can be difficult, especially within an enterprise where options beyond the traditional 9 to 5 were never considered before.


The question of work location and schedule doesn’t need to be an “us versus them” proposition, however. By understanding the different workplace choices, including the benefits and challenges of each, organizations can structure job positions to serve everyone’s interests.


The Role of Workplace Flexibility


More companies are offering flexible work options to their employees. These opportunities can take many forms:


  • Remote Work. The employee performs their job entirely off-site, often at home.

  • Flextime. Individuals work a full day without being limited to traditional office hours. Often employers establish a range of starting and finishing times for workers to choose from.

  • 4-Day Workweek. This is also referred to as a compressed work week. Instead of five 8-hour days, the week comprises four 10-hour days.

  • Hybrid Schedule. A work schedule that combines remote and on-site work.

Flexible workplace environments are becoming the preferred standard. In fact, research showed 87% of employees embraced flexible work options when given the chance.


According to a survey by McKinsey, workplace flexibility is a top 3 motivator for job seekers. Looking to attract top talent to your organization? Reaching beyond the traditional work structure can make your company more appealing to candidates.


The Benefits and Challenges of Flexibility


Pros and cons exist in every workplace setup, and this new era of flexibility is no different. Consider these factors as you look to implement a non-traditional schedule.


For Employees


Flexible options make it easier for employees to manage their needs and wants, providing a better work-life balance. Many employees report these options boosted morale and productivity.


Non-traditional schedules can also decrease the time, stress, and cost associated with traveling or commuting. For individuals with disabilities or health conditions, flexible work options mean better employment opportunities that fit their unique situations.


On the other hand, workplace flexibility presents its own difficulties. Remote workers may struggle to unplug when work-related technology surrounds them at home. Some individuals have reported difficulty connecting to teammates, learning new job-related skills, and increased mental health issues.


For the Business


On the business side, organizations can profit from leaving behind the traditional workplace. For one thing, the decreased need for office space saves money and is more sustainable in the long run.


Additionally, offering flexibility is a great way to retain good employees and stand out when recruiting. Remote, hybrid, and other non-traditional schedules can even decrease absenteeism and make it easier for companies to continue functioning during weather disasters or other emergencies (like the pandemic).


Shifting away from a more rigid work structure can be a challenge, however. Some workers, including high-level employees, may resist change. Other difficulties may include balancing supervision and privacy, protecting data, maintaining good communication, and coordinating differing schedule types effectively.


How to Find What Works Best for Your Company


With so many choices, where do you start? Here are steps you can take to discover what best suits your business.


  1. Ask your employees. Who better to know what work options will benefit your employees than the employees themselves? Reach out through a survey or email, or have teams meet and discuss their needs for flexibility.

  2. Determine company needs. Sit down with leaders on all levels. This is an opportunity to consider schedules, remote work, role limitations, and other concerns.

  3. Find a good combination. After gathering and analyzing the data, determine how best to combine employees’ needs and wants with the company’s. This may mean making some positions hybrid or, if remote work isn’t possible, offering various shift hours and flextime.

  4. Make sure everyone is on board. Altering work hours or locations is a significant change. It’s important to discuss any issues people may have. Ensure leadership fully understands the schedule and helps their teams adjust.

  5. Clarify expectations. Accountability and productivity should not suffer in a well-planned strategy. Establish performance standards each person should meet and implement ways to track those standards.

  6. Seek feedback. Once workplace flexibility options have been incorporated, follow up. Address any new or recurring issues and make improvements where needed.

Like undertaking any change, implementing workplace flexibility has its challenges. Against the backdrop of changing employee expectations, however, offering more options about when, where, and how teams can work may be the key to building a people-central operation that attracts and engages top talent—and that can foster untold competitive advantage.

 

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