This article is part of a series on the workplace of the future. Click here to view the first installment.
In my previous blog, I talked about the Next Generation Workplace and defined it as an environment that enables an agile user experience by fostering productivity, efficiency and optimal growth potential. Today, I’d like to explore one of the key components of this environment — flexibility — why work flexibility is important and how savvy companies can achieve it.
Earlier this year, CareerArc, a global recruitment and outplacement firm, announced the results of their “2015 Workplace Flexibility Study.” Following a national survey of 1,203 professionals, including 116 HR professionals, 67% of HR professionals reported that their employees have a balanced work-life, yet nearly half (45%) of employees indicated that they do not have enough time each week to do personal activities. Moreover, 20% of employees surveyed reported spending more than 20 hours per week working outside of the office during their personal time — a clear indicator of work-life unbalance.
Inflexible work environments contribute to a number of negative outcomes, including spillover, which occurs when work-family conflicts begin negatively affecting employees’ morale and work performance. Another negative consequence of inflexible workplaces is a dip in employees’ loyalty toward their employer, which can lead to high turnover. By contrast, flexible work environments not only help minimize many of the negative outcomes mentioned earlier, they contribute to employees’ overall quality of life, according to a FlexJobs study. In fact, of the 2,600 participants surveyed in the study, 97% indicated that a job with a flexible work schedule would make a significant impact on the quality of their lives.
Creating a Flexible Work Environment That’s a Win-Win
Like many corporate shifts in culture that are broad based, implementing policies that meet employees’ and employers’ needs is much more complicated. This was evidenced by Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision, who made news when she reversed Yahoo’s policy of allowing employees to work from home.
Some of the potential barriers employers must address on the business side include concerns about equal treatment among employees, the potential impact on client relationships, the effect on internal staff relationships and even the costs and concerns associated with abuse of flexibility policies.