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Flexibility in the Workplace: How to Rethink the Office

June 3, 2021

workplace flexibility

No one wants to work for an organization that is rigid or overly strict about policies.

Employees want to work for a company that understands the importance of a healthy work-life balance. And if employers want to stay competitive in a rapidly changing workforce, then they need to offer their team flexibility in the workplace.

Leaders of organizations across industries need to know that offering their employees a flexible work environment has to be top-of-mind if they want to see success and keep their valued employees happy. However, knowing this needs to be implemented and doing it are different things. 

Here’s where to start.

How to achieve workplace flexibility

As an HR professional, there are many components to a flexible workplace that you can implement that can change the work environment for the better. Depending on if you add one element to your office or more than one, it’s important that your business can still operate smoothly and successfully. For that to happen, be sure to add absence management software to plan for employee vacations, sick days, and more. 

Negotiable hours

The first element of a flexible workplace that a company should consider offering is a flexible schedule with a negotiable start and end time, sometimes referred to as flextime

For this to work, consider your employees’ productivity levels. Some may feel like they get the most accomplished before noon while others are night owls. To accommodate everyone’s preferences, allow for flexible scheduling and let your teams choose the eight-hour workday that fits them best.  

Caregiving leave

Family dynamics can be complicated and stressful.

When an organization provides flexibility for family and medical leave, it can reduce everyone’s stress while also attracting new candidates. When taking the time to recognize various complex family circumstances and unexpected illnesses that may arise, employees will feel supported and appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Businesses should no longer ignore the fact that, in the U.S. especially, there is a growing number of elderly people, their employees are likely going to have to take care of aging parents or grandparents. Similarly, caregiving leave also applies to employees who are parents of a child with an illness.

In fact, according to the Administration of Community Living, the population age 65 and older increased from 39.6 million in 2009 to 54.1 million in 2019 (a 36% increase) and is projected to reach 94.7 million in 2060. By 2040, there will be about 80.8 million older persons, more than twice as many as in 2000.

Unlimited paid time off

Organizations that have unlimited paid time off (PTO) let employees and applicants know that they’re an employee-first, modern workplace. Not only does this instill trust between employees and employers, but it’s also an incentive to job applicants.

Allowing employees to take the time off they need to avoid burnout is a huge advantage. It also gives your team the peace of mind they need to know it’s okay to take a sick day so they don’t fall victim to presenteeism.

Allow for remote work

When team members have the freedom to work from a location outside of the office, not only will this boost employee morale and increase your organization’s adaptability, it can also enhance productivity.

Depending on the location of the office, commuting can be a big strain or stressor on your team. When this isn’t a factor, employees can manage their workflows with less pressure and be more productive working where they want to be. 

Of course, this workplace flexibility isn’t an option for all industries, but it’s a good idea to consider this work-life balance option for employees that have some work that can be completed remotely at any time of day. An organization can also consider offering telecommuting during special conditions such as inclement weather or once per week as dictated by a manager

40%

of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.

Source: Small Biz Genius

Limited meetings

We’ve all left a meeting with the thought “that meeting could have been an email.”

In a flexible work environment, employees across departments must be considerate of everyone’s workload. Not everyone has the time for a day full of meetings, so it’s important that if a topic of discussion can be wrapped up in an email to go that route over a meeting that cuts into people’s workday. 

You can also choose to make meetings optional instead of mandatory so an employee can choose for themself if they have the time to attend.

Part-time options

When it comes to flexible work arrangements, allowing part-time options is sometimes overlooked.  Some organizations are choosing to offer part-time options for employees who need a work schedule that consists of fewer than 40 hours. 

If it fits the industry and company culture, some businesses may opt for hiring two employees to work part-time that covers one individual's workload, which can also be considered job sharing.

Sabbaticals

Many companies are choosing to reward employees with the option to take a sabbatical, once they’ve worked for the organization for a certain amount of time. A sabbatical is an extended period of leave offered to an employee who has worked for a company for usually five years, and can be spent studying, traveling, learning new skills, or volunteering.

When incorporated into a benefits administration policy, this extended time off work can provide an incentive for employees to stay at a company long-term while also enticing jobseekers to apply for open roles at your business.

Compressed workweek

When an organization instills a compressed workweek, it means that employees get a shorter week but still work the same amount of hours to be considered full-time. As an example, an employee may choose to work four 10-hour days instead of five days for eight hours. 

Because they're still working the typical 40-hour week, having the additional day off provides some flexibility without having to use PTO.

Benefits of flexibility in the workplace

There are clearly many options for flexible workplace policies that an organization of all shapes and sizes can implement. But why do so? It may seem like the only benefits are for the employee, but there are numerous benefits for employers to offer their team flexible workplace options.

Saves money

First and foremost, offering flexibility in the workplace can save an organization money on overhead costs. If your business is allowing employees to work remotely, or work from home more than the office, then you can rent a smaller office space. This translates into lower rent, a lower electricity and water bills, and having to pay less money when stocking the office with food or snacks.

Additionally, if a business was once allowing employees to expense commuting costs, the number of expense reports for ridesharing, bus, and train tickets will also be far fewer.

Boosts employee retention

Organizations are always looking for ways to keep their most valuable employees long-term and boost retention. Allowing employees to work flexible schedules that work best for their life is a great place to start.

Having the option to do so is a perk that many of your employees will appreciate, as they can create a work-life balance that best fits their needs. Companies that provide the option for remote work have a 25% lower employee turnover rate than those that don’t.  

Provides a smarter recruitment strategy

Is your organization hiring?

Even if the answer is no, it won’t be no forever. When your organization’s recruitment marketing strategy highlights all of the perks that come with the flexibility offered to employees, it opens up a wider talent pool of applicants who will be interested in joining your team. Jobseekers have a flexible work schedule and benefits like unlimited PTO on the top of their list.

60%

of people report that benefits and perks are a major factor in considering whether to accept a job offer.

Source: G2.com

Additionally, if your business starts to promote a remote-first culture, then it makes it possible to start turning your recruitment efforts globally instead of being stuck to local talent only, which also makes it possible to have a more diverse staff.

Improves morale and productivity

A great way to ensure that your employees know that you trust them is to offer them flexible working options. When they feel like they’re trusted to get the job done in a way that works for them – and that their needs outside of work matter – it’ll directly boost morale and loyalty. 

Similarly, a flexible work environment will also increase productivity levels across departments. If an employee feels heard, taken care of, and valued, there’s a good chance they’ll work harder to show their gratitude and appreciation. 

Prioritizes family

While some companies like to flaunt that “the business is a family,” we have news for you: your employees already have a family. Instead, when organizations demonstrate they prioritize a flexible schedule and the responsibilities that come with having a family – whether it’s your beloved pet or your spouse and children – that is something employees will actually appreciate.

A typical 9-to-5 doesn’t always fit into family life, but that doesn't mean your employees are slacking off from their daily responsibilities. Giving them the chance to work outside the box to put their family first is a great way to let your employees do their best work.

Rethink the working world

A flexible work environment can bring any organization into the modern working world. No matter the size of your company or the industry it’s within, putting your employees’ needs first and understanding that the cookie-cutter 9-to-5 workday is outdated are the only things standing in your way.

Embracing remote work and flexible hours is all part of making your business work in the modern world. Learn more about offering these benefits can make managing employee absences easier than ever.

absence management software
A better work-life balance

Find the right absence management tools that can help your organization know who is out of office.

absence management software
A better work-life balance

Find the right absence management tools that can help your organization know who is out of office.

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