The pandemic and technological advances have redefined the workday for many organizations and their employees. Having a flexible working environment means that your organization defines “work” differently and, as a result, new guidelines are established for when, where and how employees get tasks done. This also means that results are not gauged by how much face time employees put in at the office; rather, their work is reviewed based on its quality.
For employees, flexibility allows for an easier time balancing work and family obligations. It allows individuals to engage in their roles as a professional, parent, school board member, coach, avid exerciser and/or homemaker all at the same time. This flexibility is a benefit to tout in your recruiting and retention efforts.
Types of Flexible Working Arrangements
There are many types of flexible working arrangements being implemented across the nation, including:
- Remote work – Working entirely through an electronic system without a formal work schedule or location.
- Hoteling – Employees share a workspace because they are only in the office for a portion of the week.
- Flexible scheduling – Employees are available within core hours during the day, but may vary the times they start in the morning and leave in the afternoon.
- Telecommuting – Working from a remote location.
- Compressed workweeks – Working a full schedule in fewer than five days.
- Phased return-to-work from leave – Gradually increasing the number of hours worked after taking a leave of absence.
- Job sharing – Dividing tasks and hours among several employees who all work part-time.
- Summer hours – Reducing work hours during summer months.
- Phased retirement – Gradually decreasing the number of responsibilities and hours worked.
Employers may offer these options on an as-needed basis or as part of formal programs for all employees. Employers can also create a workplace that is entirely flexible with no defined work schedule (known as a results-only work environment). Most employers tend to land somewhere in the middle, with formal yet flexible arrangements.
Benefits of a Flexible Working Environment
Many companies have had great success implementing flexible arrangements in the workplace. The benefits include:
- Decreased turnover
- Increased employee engagement
- Increased retention
- Increased productivity
- Enhanced recruiting success
- Reduced expenses for real estate costs
- Reduced carbon footprint
Steps to Creating a Successful Workplace Flexibility Program
Developing a program to make your workplace more flexible is fairly simple and requires minimal to no resources. This will look different for each organization, but generally these steps will be involved:
#1: Look at your current flexible work schedule offerings (if any)—who is eligible, how the program is used, how the program is administered, and what is expected of management andemployees.
#2: Determine how flexible you want to be moving forward. You will need to balance corporate guidelines, individual needs, management desires, etc.
#3: Sell the program to senior executives by highlighting how the program can positively benefit your bottom line.
#4: Create a link between flexibility and your organization’s goals. Determine howexisting and future flexibility plans will align with your current and futurecompany goals.
#5: Link flexible arrangements to your business results by creating a measurement systemthat gauges that connection.
#6: Enlist senior leadership and management personnel to promote and administer flexible working arrangements. These people should have the training and tools to do so properly.
#7: Communicate with your employees about flexible arrangements as part of your total rewards strategy and offerings.
As baby boomers retire and younger generations enter the workforce, employers have to be more adaptable to their wants – and most want flexibility. Further, as the poor economy weighs on many organizations, employees may value more flexibility in lieu of a raise or bonus, which means savings for the company.