Why Flexible Workplaces Are the Future
31 Jul 2019
Flexible work policies help to introduce a semblance of balance to the workplace. This is especially true in today’s digital age, when it feels like you’re always expected to be online and work is easily accessible anytime, anywhere. In order to increase flexibility, more and more companies are allowing their employees to set their own schedules and come and go as they please. This introduces some risk for employers. But the more that companies roll out flexible policies, the more they realize that flexible work helps to boost productivity and worker retention. Workers tend to be more loyal to employers that reward them with flexibility.
Many companies talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. They claim to champion workplace flexibility and offer flexible policies but oftentimes employees don’t feel comfortable taking advantage of these programs. Employees may fear that doing so will hurt the way they are perceived by their managers and colleagues or hinder their career trajectory.
Contrary to the concerns of employers, flexible work doesn’t cause employees to become slackers. Flexible work policies have actually been found to increase productivity.
In 2010-11, Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom and his team of researchers conducted a randomized experiment on working from home with a 16,000-employee call center company. The 10-month study compared the productivity levels of call center employees who worked from home versus those who worked in cubicles. Working at home led to a 13 percent increase in productivity, and the remote workers reported higher levels of job satisfaction. The study also indicated that the remote workers took shorter breaks and less sick leave.
Flexible scheduling enables employees to come into the office earlier and leave earlier, so they can spend more time with their families, work out, go to appointments, etc. Another option includes allowing employees to work four days instead of five days a week. Depending on the type of business, employees could even work 10 days straight, including weekends, and then take four days off. The possibilities are virtually limitless.
A study from Bentley University found that 77 percent of millennials believe that a flexible schedule would make them more productive. Companies that have embraced flexible work understand that not everyone does their best work between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday, while sitting in the office. This is why it’s crucial for organizations to change the way they measure the performance of their employees. Rather than measuring them by hours, employees should be measured by results. The idea of giving people the ability to do work when and where it suits them best is at the core of flexible work policies.
Many aspects of employees’ personal lives can conflict with the standard 9-5 schedule, from going to appointments to picking up their children from school. Flextime enables employees to customize their hours within certain days and ranges of time. Employees also avoid rush hour by starting and leaving at different hours than most other commuters. With flextime, employees schedule work around their lives. This allows them to attend to their personal needs without it affecting their work productivity.
According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics, nearly 4.3 million employees worked from home at least part-time in 2018. That’s a 140% increase since 2005.
Telecommuting gives employees greater freedom because they have a greater ability to balance their personal and work obligations. It can also make employees more productive because it takes away the distractions of an office. Employers save money because it reduces overhead expenses.
With more and more employees telecommuting or using flextime, the need to provide flexible workspaces has grown. This is where hoteling and hot desking come in. Hot desking involves taking whatever desk is available instead of having one assigned space. Hot desking ensures that an organization’s mobile and remote workers can quickly and efficiently find a workspace in the office without their employers having to assign them a dedicated workspace that would end up sitting empty a good portion of the week. Hoteling requires employees to reserve a space before using it.
Hot desking and hoteling help companies decrease real estate costs by eliminating excess space. These practices are particularly useful for companies in which many of the employees work remotely.
In a growing number of workplaces, employees are able to work wherever and whenever they want, as long as they fulfill their job responsibilities and meet performance metrics. But achieving a flexible work environment requires companies to have a lot of faith in their employees. There needs to be full alignment on flexible work policies from top to bottom to truly improve work-life balance and create a trust-based culture that promotes and encourages flexibility.
Resource Central is a meeting room booking system for Microsoft Outlook®, Exchange, and Microsoft 365 that makes flexible work programs easier to implement and manage. Our resource booking tool can be used to book meeting rooms, flexible spaces (e.g. huddle rooms), and hot desks.