Flexibility is a growing priority for many job seekers. When it comes to employee flexibility, professionals may prefer to stick to their own schedules, work remotely, or cut down on distractions in the office. While some companies are averse to adopting alternative work arrangements, many more understand the benefits that come with a level of freedom in work schedules. If you're considering alternative scheduling for greater employee flexibility, use the approaches in this guide to get started.
Understanding employee flexibility
There's a growing number of people interested in flexible work environments, with 97% of currently remote professionals preferring remote and hybrid schedules over in-office work for the remainder of their careers. However, it can be tough to gauge just how flexible you can be without negatively impacting business operations. What's ideal for one company can be detrimental for another, so it's important to understand some of the common types of flexible work that may work for your organization:
- Flextime allows start and end times within a defined range so employees can adjust their schedules based on personal needs or preferences.
- Compressed workweeks give the option to work longer hours per day in exchange for additional days off.
- Job sharing can split a full-time role between two or more employees who work part-time schedules, which ensures job coverage while also allowing employee flexibility.
"For many organizations, happy employees equal happy customers."
Benefits of employee flexibility
- Improved work-life balance: Companies that promote flexibility directly support employees' work-life balance, which influences fulfillment and engagement at work.
- Higher employee satisfaction: Flexibility frequently leads to better employee satisfaction, too. When employees know you're sympathetic to their needs, they're more likely to remain engaged and satisfied with their work.
- Increased productivity: Greater flexibility also improves productivity, performance, and the overall quality of product or service output.
- Higher recruitment and retention: Flexible work schedules also allow for expanding your hiring efforts. With remote opportunities, recruiting and retention rise as more candidates can apply for open positions, and flexible arrangements are often a priority for many.
- Less stress and burnout: Many employees frequently report less stress and fewer periods of burnout with flexible work schedules. This directly relates to overall employee fulfillment and quality of work.
- Ability to attract top talent: The biggest challenge for a lot of organizations is finding and retaining top talent. But with more flexible work arrangements, your organization can reach and attract highly qualified candidates.
- Increased customer satisfaction: When employees are engaged, motivated, and able to find meaning in their work, it influences positive customer outcomes. For many organizations, happy employees equal happy customers.
- Cost savings: Adjusting for remote or hybrid schedules can help your company save on the costs of maintaining a physical office space.
- Better adaptability to change: When employees feel their schedules align with their work-life balance, they're more likely to be open to changes, transitions, and new challenges.
- Greater commitment: Engaged employees are often more committed to achieving work goals, even those outside of their normal responsibilities. This commitment to quality and success also results in higher productivity and customer satisfaction, directly benefiting your bottom line.
How to adopt a flexible workplace
Keep these approaches in mind when adopting a remote or flexible work arrangement:
Assess organizational needs and goals
Assess your company's needs and goals to determine if adopting a more flexible work culture is feasible. This could mean taking a closer look at office space, underused equipment, or technology requirements to find the best ways to adopt more flexible arrangements. Similarly, productivity goals, performance metrics, and your company's overall business objectives are essential to creating a framework for employee flexibility.
Structure flexible work policies
Consider creating separate policies for flexible work arrangements such as fully remote and hybrid work. This is especially important because the criteria that many companies establish for in-person responsibilities can be meaningless for flexible work arrangements. Outline the stipulations and requirements for remote or hybrid roles and make these criteria part of your organization's policies.
Set guidelines and expectations
Set clear guidelines and expectations for flexible work arrangements, including the core working hours, availability time frames, and any specific guidelines related to remote or hybrid schedules. This ensures employees have a clear understanding of what's expected of them in terms of their work hours, deliverables, and communication procedures. Clearly outlining these expectations and making them part of a broader policy ensures consistency and accountability.
Communicate and train
Once you have a plan in motion, communicate the goals and expectations to employees. Host training sessions to help employees better understand the options available to them and the procedures or requirements for flexible schedules. This could include time management techniques, remote collaboration strategies, or training for tools that support alternative work schedules.
Make tools and resources accessible
Remote and hybrid setups rely on technology and tools that support project delivery and completion. Review appropriate tools and resources for communication, collaboration, and social interaction that your employees may need for a flexible environment. Make sure the ones you choose are easy to use and access when employees need them.
Establish performance metrics
Identify the metrics that your company will use to measure performance for employees who work remotely. These metrics can vary based on the role and level of responsibility, but they should give a clear picture of how productive employees are, what they accomplish during specific periods, and where they can improve. It's just as important to set up incentives and ways to acknowledge and reward remote employees, so make sure these parameters are also part of the performance plan.
Support work-life balance
Create incentives that help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. You may hold a virtual happy hour one day each month, where employees can hop on Zoom or Teams and play trivia games, chat about hobbies and interests, and just generally interact outside of their workflow. Encouraging staff to take time off when they need to gives them the space to focus on their personal lives.
Review and adjust
Regularly review the policies and practices to ensure they're still aligned with company goals and employee well-being. If you notice something's not working effectively, improve it or adjust for a different approach. Consistently evaluating and improving how the company supports its employees is crucial for avoiding burnout and boosting morale.
Best practices for managing employee flexibility
The way you manage remote employees will be unique to your organization, but there are a few best practices to keep in mind. Regular one-on-one or team check-ins create safe spaces for employees to share their progress, discuss challenges, address concerns, provide feedback, and ask for help. What's more, encouraging autonomy gives employees the room to make their own judgments and arrange their own schedules, which shows you trust and have confidence in their abilities.
You can also promote cross-training between teams or departments to encourage employees to learn and develop skills outside of their primary roles. This creates a versatile workforce that can adapt to changing needs and fill in gaps when team members are unavailable. Cross-training can also boost collaboration and create a sense of community when employees interact and share their knowledge and expertise.
By adopting ideal practices and supporting employees' needs, you can create a flexible work environment that boosts productivity, employee satisfaction, and the overall success of your organization.
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