Determining which types of flexibility are appropriate for the workplace is a good starting point. Business leaders need to consider their company’s unique needs and ask themselves questions such as:
- Is it necessary that every worker be physically present during a certain day each week or a certain period each day?
- Would it be possible to do particular jobs off-site some days using video-enabled collaboration tools (e.g. Skype for Business or other platforms)? If not, can earlier starting hours or later closing hours be considered?
- Can teams adequately cover for one member’s temporary absence?
- What types of flexibility would attract and maintain the right talent?
The biggest challenge to implementing flexibility in the workplace often comes down to culture and management. Work environments that place a premium on a “first-in, last-out” culture may make employees reluctant to ask for flexibility. Additionally, managers who perceive flexible work hours as a drawback, who aren’t aware of the policies, or who don’t feel equipped to manage flexible teams will most likely resist changes. For an effective change to occur, it needs to start at the top with the business owners and be communicated consistently throughout the organization, including other senior and mid management, human resources, and all levels of staff.
The nice thing about workplace flexibility is that there are many ways to adapt it to meet the needs of the company and the workforce. For larger organizations, instituting flexibility on a trial basis or starting with one department could be helpful for identifying the right balance and determining the best policies.
Balancing flexible work schedules and managing telecommuters can present new challenges, but when you weigh the potential benefits, it can be well worth the effort. In fact, aside from a boost in pay, there’s probably no better way to show employees how much you value their service and long-term happiness.
In my next blog, I’ll touch upon the role of the technology ecosystem in the Next Generation Workplace and show how although technology should not be the sole focus of a successful business environment, it plays an integral role in achieving real collaboration, productivity, and workplace flexibility.