How to be cautiously optimistic at work post-COVID-19.
All signs point to flexibility, and the greatest names in business have recognized the relevance of this single perk when it comes to giving your own company that much-needed hiring edge.
In fact, at this point, we can easily conclude that flexibility should no longer be perceived as a perk at all, but as the workforce norm. Keeping in mind that 90% of the US workforce would like to “telework”, and that 76% of Millennials will gladly take a lower salary for working in a company that offers flexibility — you’re looking at a workforce that puts a premium on this single workplace promise.
90% of the US workforce would like to “telework”, and 76% of Millennials will take a lower salary to work for a company that offers flexibility.
Why is it that so many employees and businesspeople fight for flexibility? Because it promotes work-life balance, it helps prevent burnout, it emphasizes health, it even brings serious savings to businesses that introduce it, and it skyrockets productivity. Still not sure how precisely to add a little more leeway to your company processes? Here are a few ideas to keep in mind:
First, let’s address a less-used notion of flexibility in the workplace that can be particularly useful for fast-paced companies that need creative minds to keep them going. Autonomy in many forms is a great thing for humans to work and collaborate, but when they feel they have no one to turn to if they’re stuck on a difficult problem, the quality of their work can suffer and their stress levels will soar. This is where task-related flexibility is pivotal.
Let your employees know that while everyone knows and understands and maintains their responsibilities, they are always at liberty to ask for help, support, and even delegate a portion of a task if another colleague is ready to step in to save the day. Although most businesses have a well-structured workload distribution system, sometimes, you need to account for the human factor — stress, personal issues, or a simple brain-freeze can wreak havoc on someone’s productivity. Let them get help from a team-mate.
Having an office is certainly an advantage when you need brainstorming sessions, weekly meetings with the team, and introducing your clients to your staff. Sometimes, on the other hand, some of your employees, remote or local, could benefit from working outside the office, and still in a space that promotes productivity and sets the stage for creative ideas.
More businesses looking to implement flexible work conditions use co-working spaces such as The Executive Centre in order to ensure that even their remote workers can have a professional, well-equipped space without distractions to do their jobs. If, by any chance, your other employees would like to meet them, and you’re up for an annual get-together, the very same co-working space can serve that purpose and help your employees bond.
In addition to hiring remotely and working with freelancers scattered all over the world, both your business and your culture can benefit from extending the same freedom to your local, in-house employees. While this is especially useful if you have single parents on the team, people with a disability, or an illness, this is something everyone can benefit from.
By allowing your employees to simply change their location, whether it’s an exotic resort or a mountain cabin, as long as they have the internet connection needed to deliver their work, why deprive them of the option? Alternatively, offering your employees a chance to work from home a few times per week, or even every day, can be a great solution. This can help them stay motivated, restore their energy, and inspire them to put their best foot forward, thus boosting their efficacy at work.
If you’ve calculated that each employee needs to put in between 30–40 hours every week to keep your business successful and growing, that doesn’t limit you in terms of allocating that time throughout the week. Talk to your employees — some may express the desire to work 4-day work weeks, but add more hours to the workday in order to have that Monday off. Some might like to have the option to work during different hours, much like those freelancers you’re working with.
What’s vital in such scenarios is that you give your employees the time and space they need to think about what kind of an arrangement works best for them. Young parents, fitness enthusiasts, travel aficionados, who knows the variety of lifestyles hiding behind those desks. Let them tell you what flexibility means for their time at the office (or at home), and how you can tweak their work hours, their schedule, to help them implement what makes the most sense for their lifestyle. Apparently, it will help them be more engaged at work, and provide better results for your business!
Finally, as we’ve established at the very beginning, flexibility is no longer a perk. It’s a necessity for your business to stay competitive, and preferably in the leading ranks of your industry. In order to be able to actually offer any kind of flexibility and autonomy in designing work arrangements for your employees, you need a well-designed system that helps you integrate those decisions into HR, payroll, marketing, strategic relationships, and the like. Consider using tools like Slack for communication, or Hi5 for recognition and to keep remote teams aligned with your culture.
Flexibility needs to become a part of your company identity for your employees to fully experience its potential to boost productivity. Can all of your positions be performed remotely, at odd hours, or do you need some overlaps for teams to collaborate successfully? To what extent do you need an office? Make sure that your employees’ needs are met with your flexibility implementation, while your business operations can run not equally successfully as with the old-style, nine-to-five, but much more so. The goal is to maximize your brand’s potential to inspire loyalty, productivity, and retention among employees with such an initiative.
Although we still have a long way to go in terms of transforming the workplace to embrace even more flexibility, these five make a good start for any business out there. Use them wisely, and you’ll enable your employees to make the most of their roles and become more productive than ever.
Jacob Wilson is a business consultant, and an organizational psychologist, based in Brisbane. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Bizzmark blog.