More companies are slowly moving away from the mentality that employees need to be tethered to their desks to be highly productive. Offering flexibility at work is a great benefit many employees are looking for, and it’s a good way to keep your business’s overhead costs low while fueling innovation. So what does workplace flexibility really mean, and how can you be sure it’s right for your business?
Determining if Flexibility Fits for Your Company
Even the definition of workplace flexibility is flexible. Most employers think it means offering completely remote work, but that is not the case. Flexibility can mean remote work, flexible hours, flexible vacation days, and even flexible benefits. This is helpful to companies trying to integrate flex options into the work place. The key is determining if flexible options are right for your company. Here are a few things to consider before implementing flexible work options:
Will my employees appreciate it? The answer is most likely yes. Nearly 70% of employees have expressed interest in workplace flexibility. Flexible work is one of the biggest motivators, especially when it comes to millennials. 89% of millennials would prefer to choose where they work. However, if your company is staffed with a traditional, older generation, they may prefer an office environment. Why not ask your employees directly?
Are employee roles able to be remote? Some departments fare better in remote positions while others will lack the “spark” of working in the office. Traditionally, sales and tech teams do well in remote positions. Virtual assistants can be a hit or miss; if your business has a lot of walk-in traffic, you may want a face to greet your customers. Otherwise, a virtual assistant can be extremely productive when working remotely.
Creative departments also straddle the fence. Technology has brought forth some impressive tools for remote collaboration, but there are just some creative jobs that need inspiration in the workplace.
Do I have the resources? Smartphones, laptops, software platforms, and apps have all contributed to the rising trend of workplace flexibility. Software like booth lets employees work together as if they were in the office. However, not all companies have the ability to integrate these kinds of resources. With new technology comes a learning curve. If your employees aren’t able to grasp the curve, they may have trouble being productive in remote situations.
How to Make the Switch
If you believe workplace flexibility is a good option for your business, there are ways to implement it effectively. The key is to implement changes in baby steps. Going fully remote too quickly can cause confusion within your teams and unnecessary expenditure. Here are a few ways to transition:
Stagger employee shifts. Let your employees take breaks more frequently. If your employees work in short bursts rather than long hours, their productivity will increase.
Consider changing your hours. Who says all companies have to run 9-5? Allow your employees to work odd hours if they need to. It might be beneficial to have a team work from 9-2 p.m., and another that works from 3-8 p.m. In fact, you might find you can get more work done.
Designate tasks instead of hours. Your company revolves around completing tasks and achieving goals, right? So why not let employees complete tasks when they’re most productive? Some employees may be most productive at early hours, while others may feel more prepared to get the job done in the afternoon. If you work off of a task list instead of a time clock, your employees will get the job done faster.
Implement part-time remote work. If you’ve identified some roles that are eligible to work remotely, but are still hesitant to let employees spread their wings, try implementing flexible work in small increments. Let employees go home at lunch and work the remainder of the day there. Or, have a department-wide “work from home day” once a week. Try out the flexible schedule for a while and see if it helps or hurts your productivity. If your employees are happy with the set-up and are still getting as much (or more) work done, you’ll know full-time remote work is a viable option.
Remember to stay in contact. Remote workers can sometimes feel a sense of isolation if they’re not in contact with other team members. Don’t forget to offer rewards for a job well done. If your remote teams achieve a goal, let them know it’s appreciated.