In almost every industry, flexibility is important. Businesses need to adapt quickly to changing markets, client requests, and workplace trends. That takes agility.
Flexibility is also important inside the workplace. Since 2020, flexible working practices have become even more crucial for business success. Employees have been seeking better work/life balances leading businesses to face worker shortages.
What is Employee/Employer Flexibility?
Employee/employer flexibility is a collaborative effort from employers and employees to work together to accomplish company goals effectively.
Workplace flexibility can mean giving employees some freedom in where and when they work. It can also mean some flexibility in the tasks they complete.
Examples of this flexibility in practice could look like a hybrid or remote work arrangement to allow employees to choose where they work. It can also mean setting deadlines and giving workers the freedom to decide when and how the work will be completed.
Other examples of workplace flexibility include compressed workweeks, sabbatical arrangements, and other options that give employees more freedom.
Why is Employee/Employer Flexibility Important?
The COVID-19 pandemic reshaped workplaces. Employees lost their jobs and then “The Great Resignation” occurred—where dissatisfied employees left their workplaces. Later, the concept of “quiet quitting” was coined to describe employees putting in the minimum amount of work required for their role.
It’s clear the pandemic led to a shift in how employees viewed their workplaces. Offering additional flexibility is especially important in this post-pandemic climate, and it provides several benefits.
- Flexibility helps you find and retain top talent. 21% of workers looking for a new job did so because they wanted more flexibility. Employers who are not offering flexibility in the workplace may be missing out on up to 70% of candidates. By offering flexibility, you’re able to attract more talent and ensure increased employee retention.
- It creates a healthier workplace culture. When employees have more freedom, they have more time to prioritize their well-being and develop a positive work/life balance. A UK study found that when businesses introduced a four-day workweek, they retained productivity and worker wellness improved significantly.
- Flexibility helps your business adapt. Illness, injury, and other problems can affect your workforce at any time. When you have an agile workplace, it’s easier to get tasks done when someone is unable to work.
- It helps your business succeed. In one study, 43% of workers said flexible work arrangements boosted their productivity. Another study showed that 61% of global companies reported their profits as having increased when they created a flexible work policy.
- Flexibility can save your organization money. Flexible work arrangements that allow remote working or a reduced workweek can save employers’ overheads. These arrangements can cut the cost of insurance, utilities, and real estate.
- It encourages innovation. When work processes are rigid, employees may not be getting the chance to be creative and explore ways to improve their work. By giving your team flexibility, you may end up with new ideas that benefit the individual employee and your wider workforce.
How Can You Foster Employer Flexibility at Work?
As an employer, you can show more flexibility in the workplace in a few ways.
- Look at where your employees work. If you have office workers, could they complete some of their tasks working from home? If you have deskless employees or remote workers, are you asking them to come to a central location to do their work? If so, could you use a platform such as Connecteam for clocking in and other tasks that used to be completed in person?
- Consider time worked. Do workers need to do specific tasks at specific times or is there flexibility in when these tasks can be completed? Do employees need to work for a set number of hours, or can they have some freedom as long as everything gets done? Thinking about these questions can help you uncover flexibility in different roles.
- Survey your employees. You can use Connecteam surveys to ask your workers whether they value flexibility. It can also be useful to get feedback on what systems or processes they feel could support their productivity and give them more autonomy.
- Offer training. Operating a flexible working environment requires having many skill sets amongst your employees. Workers need to master communication, problem-solving, time management, task management, and resilience. Providing training for your employees to help nurture these skills could be a valuable investment for your company.
How Can You Encourage Employee Flexibility at Your Organization?
Having flexibility in the workplace is a two-way approach between employers and employees. Because of this, it’s important to encourage employees to be flexible in how they work too.
- Hire for flexibility. Look for employees who are consistent, who understand the mission of your business, and who are independent workers. When hiring, seek workers who are interested in growth and learning as these are qualities needed in a workplace that values flexibility.
- Reconsider roles. Look at your organization’s structure and understand where there may be occasions for employees to step beyond their roles. Empower employees where possible. Set up shadowing and mentorship opportunities across departments. This cross-trains employees and gives them skills that can make them more resilient.
- Focus on accountability. Support managers and employees to ensure that productivity is unaffected by working practices becoming less rigid. Set up regular check-ins, schedules, and task lists to keep work on track. Use a task management system or software so everyone can keep track of progress on larger projects.
- Maintain strong communication. The more flexible your workplace, the better your communication needs to be to ensure no one is struggling silently. Make sure your employees can reach managers and help when they need to and use group chats to keep teams connected.
Embracing Flexibility in the Workplace
Employee/employer flexibility is a balance between workplace agility and employee freedom. It requires all stakeholders to come together to make sure work gets done sustainably, without unnecessary rigidity. This approach can mean healthier, happier workforces, better productivity and profits, and a more innovative workplace.
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