If you haven’t heard of the term “workplace flexibility”, it’s time to crawl out from under the HR rock you may have been resting under and embrace the new direction many companies are transitioning to. “Normal” work hours are no longer the typical 9-5. Workplace flexibility assists in keeping employees happy, engaged and interested in working for you and your company. The ability for an employee to “flex-time” at work is no longer considered a “perk” but rather an expectation.
Many companies ask the question, “What does workplace flexibility even mean?” Great question. Workplace flexibility is where an organization shows faith in their employees and their ability to remain productive no matter their surroundings or time of day. While that is a huge component of workplace flexibility, it also means it allows and accommodates employees to incorporate events that occur outside work and can be present or attend those outside events by coming into work earlier, working through lunch, leaving earlier, working from home, etc. The ability for employees to have a flexible workplace or schedule has so many options and are not limited to where one physically works.
What issues may arise with workplace flexibility?
The number one issue that companies face with workplace flexibility is the fear they instill in themselves. Companies fear if employees are not at their desk, working a typical day, then they are unable to be productive doing work anywhere else. While there are always instances that employees may not have the best time management skills, studies have shown employees who have a flexible schedule are more productive because they feel as if their company trusts them and their work ethic to complete tasks without being micro-managed.
Another potential issue that could arise is there are many outside distractions when one works from home or works more random hours than what is normally considered typical by the company. Again, communication is key when it comes to making certain that employees remain productive, no matter what their work schedule or where they are working. Distractions come in two forms: Voluntary distractions (TV, radio, getting up to get a snack, etc.) and involuntary distractions (such as meetings at work, phone calls at work, co-workers interrupting your thoughts to ask a question). Both distractions limit and decrease one’s productivity at work; however, voluntary distractions are actually something that one can internally stop from happening to ensure that productivity remains at an all-time high.
So, how do you implement workplace flexibility?
First, ensure it truly is something that your employees want. Smaller organizations may have employees that are not interested in that option while larger companies may have a ton of employees who are. Ask your employees. Get their feedback as to what they feel would better suit them and their needs for a work/life balance.
Next, announce a trial run within the company. Start small, if needed. Have employees implement a flexible “work day” once or twice per week. Allow them to dip their toe into the world of flexibility to have a better grasp on managing their schedule. See if they truly like it and aren’t having a “grass is greener” mentality. Give them that opportunity.
Finally, if the employees do prefer it, implement it. Don’t wait, just implement. Trust in them. Show your employees you have faith in them and their ability to balance their private life and their work life. Embrace their wants and opinions, and structure your company to accommodate.
Embrace the way of the workplace future. If your employees truly want a flexible workplace, then by transitioning to that, your company’s morale and productivity will increase due to overall job satisfaction.
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