Employees no longer prefer the traditional 9-to-5 work models, and 87% would take the opportunity to work flexibly. Technology has eliminated the need for employees to be physically present at the office during fixed working hours. With a flexible work arrangement being among the top 3 motivators for finding a new job, it is crucial for employers to consider an employee-centric approach. It helps maintain a competitive edge in the market while improving employee satisfaction and productivity.
Work has evolved from a defined set of roles and responsibilities with rigid time schedules to an adaptable and flexible structure. Defying traditional norms, employees now prefer to feel in charge of their work. Beyond the time and place of work, they look forward to defining what, how, when, and with whom they perform. The higher autonomy reduces burnout, and 40% more employees become high performers.
What is a flexible work policy?
A flexible work policy offers employees more control over their work. From schedules to tasks, methods, and location, flexible work policies allow employees to pick their most productive and comfortable work arrangement.
Flexibility in working hours improves productivity for 43% of employees. Similarly, 30% of employees perform better if they spend less time commuting to work. Additionally, technology helps 26% of employees deliver more using effective communication and collaboration tools.
Here are 7 examples of flexible work policies:
- Flex time
- Alternative schedules
- 100% remote work
- Job sharing
- Results-only work environment (ROWE)
- Unlimited vacation
Flex time, or flexible working hours, allows employees to pick their start and end times. Ask them to choose an 8-hour window for their workday such that it overlaps with the organization's core hours. It ensures their availability for team meetings and collaboration.
For instance, employees can start to work early or come in late, but they must be present between 11 AM and 1 PM. With flex time, employees get the freedom to manage personal commitments like picking up kids from school, doctor appointments, or even pursuing their education without compromising on work.
Alternative schedules allow employees to pick non-traditional working hours that align with their preferences. It could be a compressed workweek where employees work longer hours for fewer days, annual hours-averaging, shift work, on-call work, or even a part-time schedule. It allows employees to balance their personal and work commitments better.
Empowering employees with autonomy in schedule management reduces stress and increases their job satisfaction, resulting in decreased absenteeism and better employee retention rates. Employees can have more time for themselves, family, friends, or hobbies, which enhances their overall well-being. The improved work-life balance increases their motivation to perform. With alternative schedules, you can improve inclusion and attract a diverse talent pool, including parents with young children, caregivers, or specially-abled people.
100% remote work
100% remote work eliminates the need for employees to report to a physical office. They can work from any place across the globe with a portable device and an internet connection. It eliminates commuting-related stress and reduces burnout by saving up to 72 minutes daily for each employee. It makes employees 20% more happier and improves job satisfaction.
Beyond the stress reduction, 100% remote work offers employers the benefit of increased productivity and a more diverse talent pool. Employees spend 40% of their saved time on work. Organizations can hire skilled employees from different locations and backgrounds while reducing overhead costs for physical office spaces, supplies, and utilities by an average of $10,000 per employee annually.
Job sharing involves adapting to fluctuating workloads by involving two or more employees in a task. They share the responsibilities and hours for a single role while maintaining a good work-life balance. For example, two employees can reduce stress and burnout by working part-time for a single full-time role. It offers them the flexibility to not work full-time, fulfill personal commitments, pursue a hobby, or educate themselves. They can also expand their skills by collaborating and learning from each other.
Job sharing allows organizations to tap into different skill sets, experiences, and knowledge while ensuring greater efficiency from job sharers. It can enhance employee retention rates as they get flexibility in their work arrangements. Organizations can build agility by having multiple employees trained for a role.
Results-only work environment (ROWE)
A results-only work environment focuses on the outcomes rather than the physical presence of employees at work. Employees choose when, where, and how they work to meet their objectives and deliverables. ROWE policy is different from other flexible work policies as it is not time-bound but outcome-based. The employee manages their work schedule and location independently.
Organizations benefit from the agility offered by ROWE as it promotes self-management, accountability, and autonomy. It results in increased job satisfaction, employee engagement, and retention rates. It also leads to a more efficient and productive workforce as employees focus on delivering results rather than burning out by adhering to set working hours.
Unlimited vacation or unlimited paid time off (PTO) is another performance-driven flexible work policy that offers employees the freedom to take time off whenever they need it. They need to get work done without any set limits or accruals. It differs from traditional time-off policies, where employees have a fixed number of days off per year. Employees can manage their work and personal commitments without worrying about exhausting their vacation days.
Unlimited vacation builds trust by putting responsibility and accountability on the employee’s shoulders. It helps prevent employee burnout and improve their productivity rates. Rolling out an unlimited vacation policy is a great way to attract and retain top talent as it establishes you value work-life balance.
Tips for implementing successful flexible work policies
Offering flexible work arrangements requires careful planning and consideration to ensure it benefits your organization. Here are a few tips to help you successfully implement flexible work policies:
1. Get leadership buy-in
Leadership support helps with the uninterrupted implementation of flexible work policies and ensures better accountability of all stakeholders. They can help establish guidelines, set appropriate expectations, and communicate expected outcomes.
Here are some tips to strategize the process:
- Identify suitable roles or teams for flexible work arrangements and discuss with their managers
- Notice managers who support the idea and understand their interest
- Discuss the benefits and limitations of your full-time work setup
- Compile their suggestions to build your point against potential challenges
- Outline the guidelines and policies to gather opinions of the leadership
- Communicate the benefits of workplace flexibility and gain leadership buy-in
- Present the idea to the other stakeholders and use their suggestions to craft a flexible work policy that is sustainable
2. Develop a communication plan
Good communication is crucial for the successful implementation of a flexible work policy. Communicate the details of the flexible work policy to all relevant stakeholders, such as employees, managers, and cross-functional departments. It helps employees understand the guidelines and expectations of the role. Clear communication makes it easier for them to manage work while managers can track deliverables.
Explain the purpose and benefits of the flexible work policy clearly to set the right expectations. Keep the lines of communication open for feedback and addressing concerns, and act on them promptly. It will help all parties avoid misinterpretations due to a lack of communication.
3. Inculcate customization and flexibility
Ensure the policy considers each role's unique responsibilities, deadlines, and working hours. It must also understand the requirements of individual employees and customize their flexible work arrangements accordingly. For instance, an individual may prefer flexibility in terms of scheduling, while the other may need to work from a specific location. It is essential to keep both scenarios in mind while devising the policy to ensure it works best for both without impacting the role’s expected outcome.
Flexibility within the policy framework allows employees to manage their work and personal commitments better, improving productivity and job satisfaction. It also shows that the organization values its employees and prioritizes talent retention.
4. Offer training and development opportunities
Remote work and flexible work models require greater collaboration and communication. It also involves using software for virtual meetings, project management, and file sharing. Employers must offer training programs to enhance communication skills and technology proficiency for smooth workflow. Continuous learning opportunities must be provided to help employees adapt to changes in work dynamics and develop new skills to excel in their roles. It also contributes to higher employee engagement and retention rates.
5. Provide technology and infrastructure
Workplace flexibility is significantly dependent on technology and infrastructure. Ensure employees have access to the necessary work tools and resources to perform efficiently. Organizations must invest in technology and devices for video conferencing, project management, and virtual private networks (VPNs). These are necessary to support remote work arrangements. You will need additional portable devices for shift-based or shared roles. High-speed internet is essential to maximize productivity in a remote setting.
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6. Be accountable
Set clear and measurable goals and timelines for deliverables. Monitor the performance of employees through regular check-ins. Managers must promptly address any concerns or challenges to maintain productivity. Open communication and transparency help build trust.
Here are healthy ways of ensuring employee accountability while maintaining trust:
- Define Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each role
- Measure remote employee productivity through tools
- Automate report generation to eliminate bias
- Share regular updates to track performance
- Spotlight improvements to motivate employees
Mentoring programs are a bonus to flexible work policies
Planning, communication, flexibility, technology, and accountability are critical drivers of workplace flexibility. You must embrace flexible work policies for greater employee engagement, better talent retention, and improved work-life balance. It facilitates organizational agility by promoting diversity and inclusion in the talent pool.
Mentoring programs are an additional incentive in a flexible work setting. They bring employees together and eliminate feelings of isolation that may be caused by a remote and distributed environment.