A Strong Workforce is a Flexible One
Flexibility enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes by the time (when), location (where), and manner (how) in which an employee works. In this post, we share some of the benefits and ways in which you can introduce flexible arrangements into your workplace.
A broader talent pool with remote working
If talent doesn’t need to be in the office, your talent pool is suddenly global, not just local. You can build productive relationships with talent across the country or even across the globe. Using social networking, intranets, cloud technology and teleconferencing - distances becomes increasingly irrelevant. But don’t forget also the power of creativity encouraged from face to face collaboration. Telecommuting doesn’t have to be used every day, but can help open the pool to those who might not be able to come in all the time.
A more engaged workforce on the go
Truly engaged employees don’t leave the job unattended when they’re off the clock. They carry their current projects with them 24/7, and are always open to new inspirations or insights. Ideas are all around us. Employees who are constantly communicating or working on schedules involved, are out in the world more, open to input, away from an office environment where stagnation can set in.
Being flexible shows that you value diversity in the workplace
Diversification of the workplace is a regularity. Differing cultures, religions, and needs mean that today’s employer must accommodate diversity when it comes to working, thinking and interacting with others. Being flexible will enable you to accommodate the needs of your diverse workforce more readily.
Attract and Retain
The specifics of any given flexible work arrangement depends upon the circumstances of both the company and the individual. Flexible work arrangements provide workers with the flexibility for work life balance considerations while providing employers with the ability to attract high-level talent and retain top performers.
Here are a few examples of flexible work arrangements
Some companies establish ‘core hours’ for which employees must be present, for example 10am to 3pm, and require employees to be in the office 40 hours per week, allowing the individual employee to determine their own arrival and departure time. Other companies just require employees to be present for 40 hours per week at times completely of their own choosing.
Flex time is a good workplace flexibility arrangement for firms where close collaboration and in-person meetings are indispensable, or where it is simply not feasible for employees to work remotely due to lack of technology or other constraints.
For example, where an employee chooses to work fewer than 35 hours per week even when full-time work is available and part-year work where an employee works only a certain number of months per year.
Voluntary part-time arrangements are highly sought after by new parents following maternity/paternity leave, workers dealing with the loss of a close family member, soon-to-be retirees, and employees seeking to further their education.
Part-year arrangements are common among teachers who take time off between terms and professionals who otherwise work full-time but for a variety of reasons seek extended time off.
Telework is a workplace flexibility arrangement where employees work outside of a traditional office or business premises.
For some employees this means working from home while for others it means doing work in a network location or even embedded within the work site of a client.
Telework lends itself well to a wide variety of situations, not the least of which is attracting workers whose talents are hard to come by and who are unwilling to relocate for any number of reasons.
Employees who work remotely can also save time on commuting and report lower work-family conflict.
It can also be a useful approach in the event that inclement weather, construction, or other disruptions make travelling to or working in the office problematic.
This week’s managers tips
Build a business case. When exploring different approaches to workplace flexibility, consider the impact any given program will have on your organisation as well as the needs and circumstances of employees. By establishing a clear understanding of the ramifications of each option, you can set parameters like core office hours that will mitigate any negative consequences that could arise.
Provide Training and Resources. The number one reason workplace flexibility programs fail is due to lack of training and the lack of needed resources for employees to get work done in a non-traditional environment. Organisations that are most successful with workplace flexibility place an emphasis on training employees on how to communicate with remote colleagues as well as training managers on how to supervise from afar.
Know Your Competition. The best way to take advantage of the benefits workplace flexibility offers is to continually network with talent outside of your organisation. Companies that are open to embracing telework suddenly have a much broader talent pool to select from. By keeping an eye on their competitors they also remain aware of different ways to foster a flexible environment and maintain a feel for the types of flexibility that workers are seeking.