“All of our employees have the option to work flexible hours,” says Rotem, the HR manager and recruiter at Ubeya, “but is that what it takes to have workplace flexibility? No. It’s much more than that.”
Indeed, it takes more than flexible employee schedules or sporadic days of remote work in order for both employers and employees to fully encompass and benefit from managed flexibility within a business.
Workplace flexibility is a term composed of a broad spectrum of work arrangements, from hours of work, patterns of work, locations of work, and more. The incorporation of a flexible model in the workplace can help improve daily and long-term operations and procedures, increase profitability and enhance productivity, along with numerous other advantages that accompany flexible work arrangements.
With tools, resources and technology empowering your business, you can ensure that by adopting a flexible mindset, your business performance not only remains consistent, but grows as a result of increased flexibility.
Take Flexible Mindset Action
The first flexible option that most people tend to think of when referring to “flexible work” is remote work. Given that your business model supports a location-independent approach, many companies today, regardless of the current economic and pandemic situation, provide a remote or work-from-home option.
Companies who allow remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t
As an employer, you need to choose a model that best works for your business and your employees, whether that means allowing employees to work off-site full-time, part-time or on an advance-notice basis.
“Location isn't a hurdle. With the technology we have now, we don’t need to be based in an office anymore,” says Lizzie, Area Manager at Arc Recruitment, as she explains how her managers are able to track their employees’ arrival to different job sites from their mobile devices. Although their business used to be very “location-centric”, says Lizzie, Arc shifted their mindset from manual and location-dependent work to a flexible model easily supported by their implementation of Ubeya.
Read more about how Arc Recruitment scaled operations and became location-independent during Covid-19
Flexible Arrival and Departure
The amount and type of flexibility in work hours your business offers can be crucial to maintaining workforce retention and satisfaction. Flexible arrival and departure times is a type of flexible work arrangement that is already being implemented in companies around the world.
Take Sweden for example, where most businesses require employees to work on-site between the hours of 9 am to 4 pm, or even 10 am to 3 pm, and to continue the rest of the work day from home. Sweden is considered to have one of the highest global work-balance cultures, and the high rates of productivity and business performance speak for themselves.
In compliance with the nature of your business needs, considering flexible arrival and departure times can positively affect the individuals of your workforce who are parents, students, or otherwise-committed but productive workers who would not only be appreciative of receiving these flexible arrangements, but more satisfied that will surely show in their job performance.
Options and Availability in Shifts
Shift-based businesses can leverage a flexible working system by giving employees the choice, and control, to choose which shifts they are most comfortable working or most available for. This can be a huge game-changer for a business’ performance by catering to your employees’ needs and scheduling the most-available and best-performing teams together.
Other ways to provide flexibility for shift workers is offering employees a way to trade shifts between themselves in case of sudden changes in availability, or for a way for employees who want to take on more responsibility to easily grab open shifts. For employers and managers, this also majorly mitigates the challenges of filling in shift gaps and finding replacements.
Unpredictable scheduling is another issue that tends to come hand-in-hand with businesses employing shift workers, and one that can put a damper on an efficient workforce. However, by actively adopting and implementing a predictive scheduling approach, businesses provide their workforce with greater flexibility, less stress and a healthier work balance. (Read more)
Leaves and Requests
Work and personal life has this uncanny habit of becoming entangled with one another, and personal requests, leaves, absences and time off also require the flexibility that other components of daily workforce operations demand.
Caregiving responsibilities in particular can be a stressful burden on individual workers who are working within rigid regulations. To change that, employers can provide employees with an easy system to make requests and receive answers from their immediate supervisors or managers. This way, both employees and managers can easily communicate with one another about important issues, pending requests, and work lives become a whole lot easier with mutual communication, respect and understanding.
How can you become even more flexible? Consider your current time-off arrangement system, and see how you can expand your employees paid time off or leave requests to better fit current demands.
Connect Your Workforce
Your employee has a question about arrival to the shift? One of your team members is looking for a ride today? Yes, swift and smooth communication is an essential part of creating a flexible work environment.
When your team is provided with the tools and resources to help them communicate better with one another, they work together more efficiently and effectively. This is especially useful in creating an engaging, stimulating work environment for dispersed teams, when some workers are onsite and others are working remotely, offsite, on-the-go, or are outsourced.
Especially when it comes to changing work conditions and flexible work policies, employers will need to be able to communicate this information to employees, teams and departments in an easy way that relays the relevant information to the relevant people (even, for example, to potential candidates in job descriptions and interviews.)
Just as internal policies change quickly, so do external ones - local and state employment laws are constantly being updated and regulated, so communicating about schedule changes or posting upcoming GFEs may be a must for your workforce. Learn more here
Implementing a flexible mindset within your business infrastructure may sound like it has its roots in HR, but flexibility goes beyond the HR realm. When your departments connect and partner with teams outside of HR operations, you can deliver strong and efficient workplace results.
A strong alignment of interdepartmental relations requires breaking down the barriers that divide between your teams and divisions. In this case, flexible businesses work in non-traditional manners, operating under company-wide cooperation and communication, eliminating the typical hierarchical divisions and relying on teams composed of all employment types - from freelancers to contingent, outsourced and temp workers.
Train Supervisors to Manage Flexibly
The team leaders, supervisors and managers that have the most direct contact with your employees are the most important for facilitating change in the flexible mindset of a business. They are your front line representatives for making sure workers stay focused, productive and satisfied while implementing new policies, flexible arrangements and handling day-to-day operations.
Skills, training and resources are important for keeping flexible culture and operations running smoothly. Businesses need to make sure that the managers they are hiring and onboarding will be able to quickly adapt to changing conditions, and that they are given the proper tools and training for the flexible management that today’s business world demands.
Be Flexible About Flexibility
Flexibility (noun): the ability to bend without breaking. The business world and labor market is prone to sudden changes and volatility, as seen by the latest example of the pandemic outbreak. While we can’t always predict what is going to happen, and with new generational demands and increased competition already affecting the framework of the modern workforce, businesses can still prepare themselves for change.
Adopting a flexible mindset with the right abilities, tools, resources and technology to bend, adapt and evolve with any dynamic circumstance in the workplace and work arrangements, without compromising on job performance and productivity, helps companies prepare for future demands and become more pliable with the course of the business economy.