Think you’ve fully embraced workplace flexibility?
If you answered yes, you’re headed in the right direction. Even better news is that you are not alone. Companies and organizations in a range of industries (including your competitors) have begun to recognize the value of providing flexibility in associates’ job roles, locations, schedules, tools and more. They use flexibility to attract the best talent, engage employees and of course, maximize productivity.
Wait, what exactly is Workplace Flexibility?
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (2012), workplace flexibility is “a mutually beneficial arrangement between an employee and his / her employer in which both parties agree on when, where and how to work gets done.”
Job sharing, shift-flexibility (also known as “flex time”) and telecommuting are, but a few examples of workplace flexibility. With a menu of flexible work options employees are no longer locked into traditional routines — like clocking in and clocking out. Rather, success is measured by results (e.g. the fulfillment of certain duties and responsibilities) and workers are afforded more freedom in deciding how to effectively perform their job functions. And studies show, when properly implemented, workplace flexibility can open the door to higher levels of productivity.
The Millennials are Coming
The demographics of the workforce are quickly changing. Soon, the majority of the workforce will be millennials (i.e. people born between 1980 and 2000). What do talented and highly motivated millennials want from employers?
You guessed it! They want workplace flexibility. An essential element to maximizing productivity is having a team of talented and highly motivated people. The future of your company depends on your ability to attract and retain the highly skilled millennials that will help boost productivity. Thus, embracing flexibility is not a matter of choice, but a matter of survival as an organization.
Diversity and Inclusion
Remote teams can attract a more diverse workforce. Establishing teams that work virtually gives you the opportunity to recruit team members from a wide range of different cultures, backgrounds, and locations. Global and diverse workers bring fresh ideas and fresh perspectives, which is fertile soil for innovation and increased productivity. But having teams with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints can also present many challenges. There may be cultural and communication barriers that have to be overcome. Team members from different cultures could unknowingly do or say something offensive. Team members that speak English as a second language may misunderstand slang and popular culture references. However, the benefits of diverse teams, when managed effectively, can far exceed the challenges.
The nature of work continues to change and the growing acceptance of workplace flexibility is part of that change. It is inevitable that workplace flexibility will be a very common practice in the near future. So you will continually need to review and revise your policies to stay up-to-date with best practices. Your internal staff can attempt to lead in this effort, but it is better to get outside help. Flexibility and productivity experts can assess your company’s practices from different perspectives without bias. It would be terrible if outdated and ineffective processes were kept in place simply because a manager was in love with it. Productivity consultants can help managers see how best to implement workplace flexibility so you can succeed.
How can flexible workplaces and virtual teams give you a competitive edge? In our Flexible @ Work series, we discuss the tenants of flexibility: What it is, why it’s important, how you can determine if your team or company is flexible and if not — what you can do to get there.