We know that most workers prefer workplace flexibility, in fact, one survey found 64% of workers would prefer a permanent work-from-home option over a $30k pay raise. But why should people leaders care?
Workplace flexibility boosts productivity
One aspect of workplace flexibility is allowing employees to choose the space they work in. Whether it is in the office, at home, or a combination of the two, employees can work where they are the least distracted and most productive. The option to work from home may even save time by cutting out a long commute.
It’s not just about location – flexible work hours can also help employees find and take advantage of their peak hours (AKA the times throughout the day they are most productive). This can offer flexibility to those workers who do not have an option to work remotely!
Workplace flexibility increases retention
From a 2019 survey by FlexJobs, 80% of respondents said they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options. Thirty percent reported leaving their jobs because flexible work options were not offered. And we can only imagine the numbers have gone up since the pandemic.
Employees are more likely to stay when they feel:
- Their needs are being met
- They are trusted
- They are being held personally accountable for their work.
Of course, as people leaders, we want to empower our teams to feel trusted, accountable and more productive. So here are a few things to consider when creating a flexible workplace environment:
1. Be consistent when offering flexibility
Everyone deserves the same degree of flexibility, if their position allows it. It is not just a younger generational need – employees of every age are seeking out and can benefit from flexible work policies. Various age groups may have differing reasons for needing flexibility and, “one person’s reasons for needing flexibility are not any more important or any less important than any another person’s.”
Consistency is also crucial when it comes to job tenure. Some managers believe employees should have to be at their company for a certain amount of time and earn the trust to work flexibly. If a person is trusted enough to be hired, they should be trusted to get work done regardless of their workspace and hours!
2. Tailor flexibility to each individual
You do not need one concrete, written policy on flexibility in your handbook. So be… “flexible” when fostering a culture of flexibility rather than setting specific rules. Since it will look different for everyone, allow people and teams to individualize their flexibility. A caregiver may need to leave early to take an elderly parent to an appointment. A parent may need to work from home three days a week to care for a little one. Others may need a long walk in the afternoon to recharge.
3. Engage all employees
Don’t forget to continue to engage all of your employees! That includes workers who are fully remote. At an in-person meeting, ask the input of the person who phoned in. When you host in-person events and activities, include a virtual attendance option. Utilize a social engine or eCards to engage and recognize employees that are both in person and remote.
4. Evaluate and re-evaluate
Make sure team members have the resources necessary for working flexibly, but still assess your team’s situation. There may be certain times that flexibility is limited due to the demands of clients, the need for in person collaboration, etc.
Even after implementing workplace flexibility into your culture, remain open to feedback. Frequently re-evaluate how things are going with individuals and as a team. If a particular approach does not work, make a change and move forward.
The bottom line is that employees want workplace flexibility and employers should, too. Truly embracing flexibility will skyrocket productivity, retention, and overall morale. Be consistent, tailor to the individual, evaluate what works, and don’t forget to engage everyone!