The Rise and Importance of Employee Flexibility
Why is employee flexibility trending now? It’s an important business practice with many benefits, that everyone should consider. Read on.
Having employees you can rely on is the alpha and omega when running a company. There are extreme limitations to what one individual can achieve. A happy and productive team will all but guarantee that your business will flourish when the time is right, and survive when it isn’t.
But keeping a team happy is no small feat. Managing employee morale, especially on a tight budget, or in the middle of a pandemic, can be mind boggling. People have individual strengths and weaknesses, and a myriad of different needs. You can’t cater to all of them, and it’s exceptionally difficult to bring out the best while suppressing the worst.
Some things are universally helpful. They include family and medical leave, incentivizing great work-life balance, and meeting employees halfway when they have certain requests the company can accommodate. More than a fancy Christmas party or a small end-of-year bonus, significant and meaningful concessions to help an employee take care of their loved ones and be home in time for dinner can go a long way towards fostering good will and uplifting morale.
Having the right workplace is also important. But it’s one of the harder accommodations to meet, as everyone likely has their own definition of what the right workplace is like. It’s in this instance that you might want to consider the merits of implementing work-from-home or work-from-anywhere policies to promote employee flexibility.
What is Employee Flexibility?
To cut things short, employee flexibility is giving your employees the opportunity to be flexible with their workspace and schedule. This means measuring performance in the long-term versus the short-term – i.e. trading in consistent and monotonous, albeit mediocre performance, for a flexible schedule that might include better breaks and longer leave, but with a lasting impact on productivity.
It means seeing better results at the end of the month, even if an employee has to call a day short to take care of something personal. It means giving employees the flexibility to take a few days to work at home or in an environment of their choosing, and watching the quality of their work improve. Some of the defining characteristics of good employee flexibility is offering:
- Caregiving leave
- Paid time off
- Opportunities for career breaks
- Periods of part-time work from home
- Flexible choice of schedules and work shifts
- Location-independent work (work-from-anywhere)
- Flexible arrival and departure
- And more
There’s more to it than being lax with an employee’s whims and wishes. There has to be a certain structure to it – but offering even a bit of flexibility and compromise shows your employees that you prioritize their wellbeing, even if they understand that it might be for the good of the company, in the first place.
And it is. People do better when they’re happy, and worse as the pressure rises – while there are some short-term gains to be realized from crunching people into oblivion in the weeks and days before a project is due, the cost for that type of management can be severe.
Furthermore, employee flexibility is also about engaging and attracting new talent, and not just retaining the talent you have. Employees particularly value the options to arrive and leave when they want to, as well as work from home or work from anywhere.
Let’s take a look at how you might do so.
Diversifying Your Workspace Options
One of the most significant changes you can make to help accommodate wishes for more employee flexibility is by adjusting your workspace offerings.
Giving employees the ability to opt in to work from home is by far the simplest way to bring a greater level of workplace flexibility to your company. Many companies that survived the pandemic have had to do so through home office measures anyway, so opting to incorporate a hybrid workspace model is nothing new. Those who want to work from the office can come to work, and those who prefer working from home can opt to do so.
If your employees prefer to work in an office environment, why stop short at one office? Especially if the commute is just too much for some of your employees.
Of course, getting a second office is incredibly cost-prohibitive. But incorporating a coworking space isn’t. You can greatly expand workspace options for employees who prefer the office environment but can’t always make it to the office in time, by looking for coworking alternatives near them.
Coworking spaces are office spaces owned and managed by companies that rent out access to the space to a number of different tenants, including businesses, small teams, entrepreneurs, and freelance contractors. Coworking spaces are famously diverse, offering plenty of opportunities for natural networking, as well as cooperative work and unexpected partnerships.
Even larger companies with more than enough resources to open new offices utilize coworking spaces as a way to bring employees together in a satellite office in new cities or regions, without the cost of leasing a space all to themselves. Like other monthly subscription models, coworking spaces are far more flexible than traditional office leases, giving companies the ability to opt in and out of utilizing different spaces, as needed.
The Benefits of Work-From-Anywhere
The work-from-anywhere model is generally associated with greater employee satisfaction and improved productivity. And it’s the future of work, as it stands.
2020 has doubtlessly played its role in this. While the pandemic forced countless companies to rush their implementation of remote work, leaving much to be desired in businesses who weren’t equipped with the knowledge needed to cooperate remotely, preserve data security, and manage their work/life balance while working from home, it still sparked a flame in many who found that they had learned to love working from wherever, and whenever they choose.
While managers like to control every aspect of when and how the work gets done, there is an argument to be made that allowing a little more freedom and employee flexibility can go a long way towards making the most of a company’s top talent. Leaders need to learn to capitalize on the growing number of technologies and commercial options that are making workplace flexibility easier than ever, especially through coworking spaces.