Workplace flexibility is a mutually beneficial arrangement between employers and employees in which both parties agree on when, where and how work gets done.
It's well known that flexible working arrangements bring many positive benefits to an employee’s life, including a better work/life balance, greater ownership of their own time, and more control of their responsibilities. But there can also be several employer benefits, such as increased productivity, improved profits, and boosts to recruitment and retention.
So how do you get the most out of a flexible working policy?
Flexibility policies are evolving in today’s workplaces, and many managers and employees are experimenting with new ways of working. Though some companies are concerned that a loss of direct control over employee work patterns could result in a reduction in commitment or discipline, reports suggest that the inverse is true, and flexible working produces a more energized, motivated workforce.
Flexibility has a substantial impact on a company's ability to be agile, to deliver best value and to transform business. Ensuring that both employer and employee goals are met is essential if you want to make flexible working a reality within your business.
Workplace flexibility is, naturally, a flexible concept. You can offer varying degrees of flexibility, in areas such as time, location and workload to create beneficial working scenarios for employees.
Flexibility in time affords employees a degree of choice regarding how total weekly hours are distributed. Flexibility in location allows remote workers to conduct their tasks away from the main worksite. And flexibility in workload includes part-time, reduced-load, and seasonal roles or contracts.
Successfully negotiating these terms so that both employee and employer are content with the agreement will help to increase morale and enable your business to reap the benefits of a flexible working policy. Failing to reach an agreement can result in a reduction of employee-satisfaction, a decrease in productivity, and failure to effectively implement workplace flexibility into your business.
Workplace flexibility has many potential benefits for both employers and employees but also potential challenges when it comes to implementation.
Like any other policy, implementing flexible working requires systematic evaluation to assess effectiveness and fine-tune best practices. Therefore, ensuring that employees and employers all clearly understand their roles and responsibilities whilst adapting to the new structure is essential.
Employers should be available to educate employees, answer questions about the implementation process and coach as necessary. Meanwhile, employees can be expected to demonstrate that flexible working can meet the needs of all parties and provide a better solution than that which currently exists.
The initial implementation process may be demanding but, by setting clear performance goals, communicating efficiently and obtaining feedback, you can successfully manage workplace flexibility and begin to benefit from a happy, motivated, engaged workforce.
It was once believed that flexible working was only beneficial to working parents or those returning from maternity leave. But, with improved research, it is now well understood that both employers and employees can benefit from greater flexibility in the workplace.
Understanding the varying degrees of flexibility that can be put into practice and negotiating preferable terms for both your business and its workforce is important to successful implementation. Meanwhile, selecting the correct strategy during the implementation stage and then continuing to evaluate its effectiveness can help to improve current practices.
With increasing flexibility within working policies and a new generation of employees expecting a greater level of control over their working environment, there has never been a better time to negotiate, implement and embrace workplace flexibility and enable your business to reap the benefits of a mutually beneficial arrangement.