Who doesn’t love working from home in their pajamas?
Perhaps not everyone wants this option, but increasingly, employees are demanding increased flexibility in their work arrangements. Employers are responding to their workers. In October 2019, USA Today reported that 57 percent of organizations offer flexible schedules and 44 percent have recently put in place new strategies to permit even more flexible scheduling in an effort to attract and retain employees.
The tight job market certainly provides an advantage to make these schedule accommodations for employees, but the benefits go beyond retaining team members. The greater level of connectivity we enjoy from technological advancements makes the logistics easier for most employees to work remotely or on flexible schedules.
In this busy, hectic world, allowing employees to have flexible work arrangements can lead to lower turnover and absenteeism, not to mention higher productivity and employee engagements.
Flexible work arrangements present their own set of challenges too. So, how do you make them work for your business?
Let’s take a look at the three most common types of flexible work arrangements and keys to success.
Flexible Work Hours
The most common arrangement that businesses offer is flexible hours for their employees. Typically, this approach allows an employee to work outside the 9 to 5 business day. For example, come to the office earlier in the day and leave early or come in late and stay later in the evening. Flexible work hours can allow employees to better coordinate with schedules for their children or partner. It also facilitates, and even encourages, an employee to pursue passions outside of work, such as coaching or attending school.
A potential drawback for a business is to ensure that you have the proper coverage you need in the office during certain times of the day. Additionally, scheduling a team meeting can be a challenge if a lot of employees have flexible hours.
The key to success here is establishing clear guidelines (perhaps only a certain number of employees can be out of the office at the same time) and communicating consistently with employees who have flexible hours.
Another popular flexible arrangement is allowing employees to work remotely. Although not applicable to all, most businesses have created processes and leverage technology that permits employees to work from locations outside of the office. The same concept used for employees traveling for work purposes can be applied to employees who want to work remotely for personal reasons. Working remotely means an employee can be at home to meet with a contractor without taking a vacation day. It also allows for deep thinking away from the chaos of a busy office environment. A new setting and quieter atmosphere can help employees break through challenges.
Although working remotely may be popular with some employees, it’s important to be cognizant of distractions wherever else they’re working. For example, a loud coffee shop might not be a better option than the office. Likewise, an employee’s productivity might suffer if they work remotely while also caring for a sick child (a personal day might be a better option). Working remotely doesn’t promote team collaboration or facilitate direct supervision, either.
The key to success with working remotely is once again setting clear guidelines. Consider restricting the amount of remote work that’s allowed or encouraging those who want to work remotely to participate in video conferences with those in the office to foster enhanced collaboration.
Don’t forget about the use of floating holidays as a flexible work approach. Most businesses have set holiday schedules when their offices are closed, but you could consider setting a certain number of floating holidays in addition to the standard holidays offered. These floating holidays are a simple solution that provides a great benefit for employees by allowing them to choose additional days to be out of the office or working remotely on their schedule.
Floating holidays also mean that employees from various faith traditions can observe important days (that don’t follow the company’s preestablished holiday schedule) without having to use vacation time. These days also ensure flexibility for parents trying to negotiate both work and school schedules.
The key to success here is clearly outlining the policy around floating holidays and how it’s implemented to ensure fairness for all employees.
Of course, there are many more options when it comes to flexible work arrangements. The Society for Human Resource Management has a valuable toolkit on managing flexible work arrangements that is worthy of a close review for anyone considering new or revised flexible work policies.
Ultimately, a company must have well established flexible work policies with multiple scenarios thought out and illustrated. The solution that works best for your business will take into account your organization’s needs as well as the desires of your employees. Finding that balance is crucial. Be open to flexible work arrangements because they offer a variety of benefits and can support greater productivity.