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Work Flexibility – Empowering Teams to Work When and Where They Want
Technology has forever changed the way we work and interact with our colleagues. It has become the new norm to answer work emails while picking up your daily cappuccino in the morning or finishing up presentations while watching TV at home. Technology’s emergence into the office, for better or worse, has taken the traditional culture and spun it upside down. Employees have become accustomed to being expected to reply to work emails while on vacation and put in extra hours from home. They now want to take back control over their work-life balance!
Employees want more control over the hours they work and the freedom to work where they want. This is being done by more employees talking about the flexibility of being allowed to balance work and personal time – within reason. This can be seen throughout job posts on LinkedIn mentioning flexibility increasing by 78% since 2016. This conversation is further solidified by the growing increase of LinkedIn members explaining that work flexibility is a top priority when considering job offers.
Companies and employers are increasingly promoting their flexible work options in their job posts and even creating specific marketing campaigns around the “work-life” balance initiatives which they have. This is down to not only promoting themselves as an ideal employer but also helps with retention of talent and productivity improvements. While there might be some challenges relating to collaboration and bonding between employees, these seem to be surpassed by the increasing benefits and results of measures imposed.
Of course, these flexibility initiatives vary by industry as certain industries are not made for remote working or flexible hours – although these companies are trying to implement forms of flexibility in certain areas. However, the Tech and iGaming industries seem to be leading the way with remote working and flexible conditions with 72% of respondents working in these fields say that their companies have remote working policies. Compared to 43% of talent professionals in the manufacturing and healthcare industries, one can easily realise that the tech fields are fuelling this change in approach to working policies.
As mentioned, companies are seeing the increasing benefits of having interesting and varied flexible working policies. Offering employees and potentially new talents a greater work-life balance not only helps with attraction and retention but drastically increases productivity, which at the end of the day is good for the company. In this sense, it’s not just revenue but also needing less space and resources at the office. This can be seen as Dell has saved an average of $12million a year thanks to fewer space requirements thanks to its flexible work programme.
In addition, having flexible working policies will enable companies to hire a more diverse workforce with 24% of respondents saying that flexibility is an important factor when considering job offers.
Women tend to consider work flexibility more than men with 36% of women saying it is very important compared to 29% of men. Different lifestyles require various degrees of flexibility as these shouldn’t just be aimed at working mums but also people with disabilities as reinforced by Sara Sutton, founder of ‘1 Million for Work Flexibility’, who said that having diverse flexible working conditions isn’t just related to empowering mothers to work but also people with disabilities, military spouses as well as people living in rural or economically disadvantaged areas.
As already stated, flexible working policies have their drawbacks and large companies such as IBM and Yahoo have publicly moved away from remote working citing difficulties in collaborating and teamwork. Although these are real challenges and talent professionals agree on this, they suggest that these may be easily overcome by using tech platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, GoToMeeting and WEBEX. These are tools which actively help to recreate the immediacy and informality of being in offices and collaborate together even if working in different places and timezones.
The following are 6 steps that could be taken to boost your flexible work culture:
Understanding what types of flexibility your employees want
Flexibility isn’t just about remote working, as a company, it is best to survey employees and analyse what they want. Many might want to shift work to train in the morning or take their children to school, others might just want to skip the morning/afternoon traffic. According to a survey by Werk, they found that the most in-demand work flexibility benefit is having an assigned desk while still being able to work remotely.
Work with teams outside HR
The best method to have a remote working policy bear fruit is to equip your employees with the right technology which will help them have a seamless transition from the office to the remote. Working with your IT team to find the best solutions to your needs is the ideal bet. Having functional technology may also allow you to efficiently utilise your space and save on real estate costs.
Enable employees to connect
The efficient use of technology to connect and collaborate will further enhance remote work collaboration. Working remotely may often make you feel left out and isolated which is why instant messaging and video conferencing apps such as Slack and Skype, help recreate real-time availability and simulate informal “water cooler” conversations which act as breaths of fresh air during stressful days.
Promote your “Flex” policies
Many large have the problem that not all employees know about flexible working policies which is why it is important for HR teams to talk about them and actively promote these. This can be done by mentioning them in job postings, employee meetings and social media posts (there’s also the added PR benefit). These may help to clear up common misconceptions and answer any queries which employees or candidates may have.
Train team leaders how to manage flexible working
It’s not as simple as changing technology or policies but the work culture needs to change too! To help with this adjustment, one could provide training sessions to help managers and team leaders efficiently lead remote teams. Training shouldn’t just focus on technology but also on culture and how to keep teams engaged.
Being flexible about flexibility
Flexible policies shouldn’t be created then left as is. As technology and cultural needs shift, you can tailor your policies to match this and make flexible working open to more employees. This may also be in regards to ‘forced leave’ days for holidays since for example, not everyone celebrates Christmas on the same day.
The report closes off with some case studies into how Dell saved millions by implementing flexible working regimes and how Sodexo has a global set of flexible working policies but tailors them to local needs.
Really and truly, although flexible and remote working has its drawback such as inefficiency, the difficulty of collaboration and bonding, these can easily be overcome by using the right technology. At the end of the day, remote or flexible working will increase employees morale and lead to better productivity and increase one’s ability to attract and retain talent.
The full report can be viewed here.
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