I have been in the workforce for approximately 20 years now. I have seen the workplace setting evolve year per year. What stood out for me was the implementation of workplace flexibility. I have had the pleasure to experience both setups. The company I have worked for in the past had a strict 8-to-5 work schedule as compared to the company I work now which has flexible working time.
What are the benefits of workplace flexibility? Workplace flexibility enables employees to be more relaxed, more engaged, and more productive. It boosts morale and prevents burn out. Workplace flexibility encourages employees to find the best work-life balance strategy that best fits their realities. It also aids in improving physical and mental health because employees get restful breaks when they need to. The whole company can cut down on expenses. At the same time, everyone can have more time for families.
In reality, however, there are still some companies who are hesitant about adapting this new work setup. Let me share a more detailed overview of the 25 benefits of workplace flexibility.
If you have flexible work hours, you will be able to balance work and life properly since you control your own time. You can attend a parent-teacher conference during the day, work the whole afternoon, drop by the gym for an hour or two, work again for some time, and meet the family for a dinner night out in just a day.
Those employees who are in an 8-to-5 office hour setting have a stricter daily timetable. Since their time is not that flexible, there is a tendency that they go about their daily lives according to a routine. They wake up at 6 a.m., have breakfast at 6:30 a.m., commute, reach the office at 8 a.m., work until 5 p.m., commute, arrive home at 7 p.m., have dinner, watch the TV, and sleep at 10 p.m. This work sets limits on employers in juggling their time and pursuing activities at their own pace.
An employer stands to benefit from taking the workplace flexibility route. This kind of setting can save costs on utilities, supplies, and real estate. Since fewer people are staying in the office regularly, consumption will lower as well.
For example, Unilever permits 100,000 employees who are allowed to enter and leave the office whenever they want (except for factory workers). They have to make sure that they still attend meetings when possible and submit all of their finished output on time.
This flexible work setting lowers their utility cost, especially in the electricity area. Fewer people are now using the sockets to charge their devices. The company does not have to stock that much food in the pantry since they currently service fewer people. These are only some of the few cost reduction areas that Unilever touched on.
Workplace flexibility gives the employee the freedom whether to work in the office or not. Since they do not have to travel regularly to work, these employees can reduce their daily cost from gas and public transport fares.
In addition, employees also tend to eat out at restaurants or fast food chains for lunch and dinner sometimes. If they work at home, they can save some money from these unnecessary food expenses.
There are also some implicit costs which are avoidable with a flexible work setup. For example, when it comes to child care, if both parents have regular 8-to-5 working hours, they are required to get the assistance of a babysitter. However, if both or one of them have flexible schedules, they can accordingly plan who will be in charge of taking care of their child. It will cut down their childcare costs.
One of the most significant barriers in conducting family time is work. Family structures are less rigid now as compared to what they were 20 or 30 years ago.
Women are not required to stay at home to become housewives while men do not have to leave the house to work. Some family setup nowadays has reverse roles: men as househusbands and women as the provider. On the other hand, both parents are employed in some cases. It illustrates how work clashes with family time.
Most full-time employees tend to leave home early and arrive late in the evening. They usually end up spending more than half of their day with their workmates than with the whole family.
It is a disadvantage especially when you have toddlers and young children. The tendency is that you will hardly see them every day so you will not be able to establish a connected parent-child relationship with them.
Flexible working can be a benefit to the modern family. You can plan your day ahead so that you will be able to offer more quality time with your family instead. For example, if your children are at school from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., you may opt to schedule your office work at this time range as well. This way, you will be there to greet and take care of them once they arrive from school.
The amount of time saved from commuting or driving to the office at 10 in the morning compared to the 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. rush hour might surprise you.
I have been commuting to work in my early years. Whenever I leave my house at 6 a.m., I arrive work at around 7 a.m. But when I go beyond 6:30 a.m., I get to the office at about 8:30 a.m. This 30-minute gap lead to 2-hour trip instead of the usual 1-hour trip! There was even a time when I woke up late and was forced to commute at 7 am which was the peak of the rush hour. Guess what? I arrived past 9:30 am!
Because of the unpredictability of the traffic scene in the metro, those who have flexibility in their work hours may opt to commute at a later time to avoid the rush hour. It will reduce the stress they feel about commuting. Not only will they be able to avoid traffic, but they also will not have to be stressed with waking up early as well!
In a flexible working setting, employees will feel more in control of their work and personal lives. Once they feel valued and trusted, they grasp the gravity of the responsibility on their shoulders. This challenge usually gives higher employee morale since they receive the trust the management puts to them.
According to research by Bayt.com entitled Preferred Work Arrangements in the Middle East and North Africa, 85 percent of the employees prefer to work for employers who offer flexible hours. The reason for this is that they feel that this kind of setting will increase their employee morale which can benefit the productivity of the organization in return.
Work flexibility entails taking breaks without having to worry about facing the wrath of your bosses. They are a necessity to be able to reboot your mind and system. This way, it will be easier for you to work again with a clearer mind.
According to an article by Gallup entitled Skyrocketing Costs for Stress-Related Sick Days, 40 percent of American and Canadian employees reported the feeling of immense burnout. These are brought about by three factors: lack of breaks, untenable workloads, and unrelenting pressure. This burnout costs the US economy approximately $500 billion a year.
Aside from implementing flexible work options and encouraging restful breaks in between work, another way to lower burnout rate is to show appreciation to employees. The more they feel that the management trusts and appreciates them, the less they feel burned out.
As mentioned above, workplace flexibility is a tool for employees to feel that their employers respect and trust them. Once they feel the warmth of trust put into them, they will feel more comfortable with their place in the company. It improves company culture.
Workplace flexibility also improves the work ethics of employees. By putting responsibilities on their plates without strict guidance makes them feel the workload. The tendency is that they will develop their time management skills to be able to reach what the company expects from them.
If the talent does not have to be in the office regularly, then your talent pool widens its reach. You can build productive relationships with other people on a national or global scale. With the presence of project-specific groups, teleconferencing, social networks, and intranets, the distance can be addressed easier.
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In spite of this, there are still some disadvantages to this kind of setup. Creativity sparks easily, and communication is better when people are together in a room. The management has to come up with a system which will maximize the use of these online tools.
Aside from this, the workplace flexibility setting is also considered a smart strategy rather than an employee benefit. The fewer the rules and the more progressive your company is, the easier it is to attract new talents and retain your old employees. Those companies with these kinds of innovative work settings make people want to work with a company which has a progressive culture and treats their employees like adults.
According to a study entitled The State of Flexible Work Arrangements, 77 percent of the employees consider workplace flexibility as one of the main criteria when evaluating job opportunities. Their reason for this is that they feel that this will be beneficial to their work-life balance and individual growth.
A broader talent pool is an advantage to the company since there will be a more extensive range of candidates to choose from for a particular job position. It means that there will be a more significant possibility that the business will fill the vacancy with the best choice.
More relaxed employees have their creative juices flowing all the time. They are more open to new inspiration or insight, and they carry their work and projects with them all the time. An employee with a well-rounded and active life is usually the one who produces the best creative output. Since they have a more balanced life, they are also more exposed to the realities of the world, from which they get their inspiration.
An employee who has many children, who are involved in postgraduate studies, or who has health problems may have difficulty in adhering to the work time standards of the workplace. Although some employers might allow special accommodations for them, doing so might create some friction between the employer and the employee. Moreover, these employees might also feel alienated from those who are working in standard hours.
Flexible scheduling can help solve this. When a company incorporates this practice into its culture, it will be easier for everyone to adjust depending on their own needs. There is no need to hassle everyone when it comes to finding a compromise in these special accommodations.
When employees work with a company which values their work-life balance and does not impose anything to them, this shows that they are treating their workers with both respect and trust. Once they feel this, they will most likely return the favor by being loyal to the management and the company in return.
For example, when an employee decides to work from home two times a week and only goes to the office three times per week, the bosses have to put their whole trust on them that they are doing their work. The gravity of this trust makes the employee feel that they are in control of their lives. Instead of working FOR the company, they are working WITH the company. It most likely will build respect, which will then result in better company culture.
In a study conducted by The Hartford, results show that 50 percent of the millennials in the workforce want to receive different development spaces and training from their employers. When their company does not offer these kinds of opportunities, the young workers still want to engage in other learning areas. Most of them want to continue learning even if they are already working professionally.
Flexible working hours enable the millennials to do just that. Some employees leave their offices early so that they can attend their post-graduate studies. There are even times that they have to work from home to accommodate two whole days of full scheduled classes.
This flexible schedule enables the employees to attain their educational goals and improve their learning curve while still maintaining a professional job. Believe it or not, this is a win for employers. Aside from being able to retain their employees because their workers prefer this work environment, their employees will most likely improve on the job as well because of the additional knowledge gained from these learning areas.
Do you know that three hours of physical exercise per week can extend the life of an individual by five years? Physical activities are fundamental to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, the sad thing with this is that workers, especially those with desk jobs, usually do not have the time to exercise on their own or hit the gym. Very few people wake up at 4 a.m. to work out before going to work, but this kind of setup usually compromises the health of a person.
Also, work stress also leads to the poor health of the workers. Because of this, there are sometimes unexpected absences because they become sick. What makes workplace flexibility advantageous is that you may opt to take a break whenever you feel tired. Having flexible work also cut out the long hours of commute which also decreases the possibility of physical burnout.
Employees also value their mental health, aside from physical health. The survey conducted by the Kenexa High-Performance Institute showed that 68 percent of companies with inflexible schedules experience “unreasonable” levels of work stress compared to the 20 percent of those businesses with time flexibility.
These unnecessary work stress usually leads to workers wanting to leave their jobs. The same study showed that 59 percent of those who experience “unreasonable” work stress in an inflexible setting would want to go. In comparison, only 22 percent feel this way under companies with flexible working hours.
Stricter hours tend to have harmful effects on the mental health of employees. Since they do not feel at ease and they are not that happy with what this setup, this usually leads to lower productivity and a lower rate of employee retention. It is terrible for the business.
One survey showed that 36 percent of employees would most likely leave their current employer if they do not implement flexible work arrangements in the next 12 months. The reason for this is that they feel that the work stress they experience already affect their mental health negatively.
If you are a night owl, do you think that you will have the energy and an engaged mindset at 8 a.m. on a Monday? Of course not. Allowing employees to work their work time on their own makes them feel more comfortable with their day. If they are more comfortable with how their workday is going, the more engaged they will be.
Higher employee engagement creates a ripple effect. The more engaged the employees, the less absenteeism and the lower turnover there is. Lower turnover leads to more trained employees and consequently improves the total productivity of the company. The more productive the company is, the more likely the company will grow.
The flexible working hour setting enables the employees to plan their schedule ahead of time. When they have complete control over the use of their time instead of the company dictating it to them, occurrences of unplanned tardiness and absenteeism will go down. Most bosses say that most employees show up into their personalized scheduled work shift on time as compared to their assigned times.
A study by CCH Incorporated shows that when employees have the freedom to draft their work arrangements, they will show up on their promised shift on time.
One of the biggest reasons why the companies are hesitant into implementing these flexible schedule setting is because they are afraid that their workforce will act out and lose control over their work. However, it does not mean that they are going to stop working and going to the office entirely. The opposite happens in reality. The employees will respect the bosses more since the management shows them respect in the first place.
According to a number of researchers, an average worker spends approximately 250 to 300 hours per year commuting to and from work. This number increases as a city grows.
You can allocate the amount of time you will be able to save from all these long commutes to more time for yourself. You can keep yourself healthy by going down to the gym, or you can even schedule reading sessions while lying down on your bed. These “me” times are sometimes a necessity so you can reboot your brain from everything and keep yourself relaxed.
What I mean by this is that workers are allowed to work where they feel they are freshest and can accomplish most. If you are, for example, a morning person more than a night person, then you should put this to your advantage. Working at your best hours will lead to increased employee productivity.
We should also break the stigma which says that early bird is the hard workers while the night owls are the unproductive and slacker workers. Believe it or not, most managers think this way even up to now. The rise of the concept of workplace flexibility, however, helps in countering this stigma.
There is no substantial evidence that this is the case. It is just merely cultural, and you should play with your strengths.
Work hour flexibility trains you to be more responsive to change. The constant changes and shifting dynamics experienced in the workplace will make you more adaptable and solution-oriented quickly. It will help you adjust to stressful situations in both the work and personal aspects without getting stressed out that much.
Diversification in the workplace is always one of the primary visions of companies. It is the new norm. Differing religions, cultures, personal values, employee needs, and work ethics mean that companies of today must accommodate this high level of diversity when it comes to working and interacting with one another. Having a flexible work hour setting will give you more freedom to accommodate the needs of these diverse set of employees.
For example, some religions have their daily rituals. If companies allow their employees to draft their work schedules, it will be easier for these people to comply with the said rituals.
Flexible working hours have been proven to be an advantage when it comes to servicing clients or customers. It is evident especially for those who are at varying time zones. Since employers can plan and adjust their schedules easily, they may opt to vary their working hours depending on their client needs.
At times when physical meetings in the office are necessary, the employers may vary their schedule depending on the agreed date and time of the meetup. On the other hand, if the employee needs to attend an online meeting at midnight due to a client being abroad, he or she may opt to participate in this meeting at the comforts of his or her home. Since he or she will be tired from this unusual meeting hour, he or she may choose not to go to the office the next day and do the deliverables at home as well.
Flexible working has also destroyed the old practice of face management. Face management is a working strategy where the boss or supervisor has to see the employee physically to ensure that they are completing their workload. This kind of approach usually brings discomfort to the employee and makes them feel awkward when their boss is around. This old practice forces employees to stay late to impress their supervisors.
The modern working environment is different from this. The contemporary setup is more output-based. It does not matter how much time employees spend in the office as long as they produce quality output. Moreover, employees are more relaxed and comfortable with their bosses if they interact with them less formally as compared to the face management style.
Since employees have their working times, there is a significant possibility that the company can extend their operating hours. For example, those individuals who consider themselves as morning people can start their day at around 7 am to 8 am and end it earlier. Those who are more comfortable in starting their work after lunch may do so and finish at a later time at night.
Instead of having a typical 8-to-5 operation, companies can have extended working hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If you combine the 24 workplace flexibility benefits stated before this, it usually leads to increased productivity. When employees are satisfied, and at ease in their work, everything culminates into more productive employees. A survey conducted by Zenefits showed that 78 percent of the respondents made them more productive because of the happiness this work arrangement gives them.
At the same time, when employees are allowed to work on the time and day that best suits them, they are more focused on their work. It results in more productivity on their side.
Having workplace flexibility benefits not only the employees but also employers. The top management of a company has to make sure to create an effective strategy on how to implement flexible work hours for the employees. Once it has achieved this, it will be a win-win situation for everyone.
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The first step is to educate employees regarding workplace flexibility and how they should use their time appropriately. The management should set the expectations on the table and lay down the consequences of misusing flexible scheduling. It is also essential to provide the employees with the best online tools where everyone can coordinate just in case they are not in the office.
Flextime - The employee can come and go in the office as they please. They can decide on their own working hours.
Annualized hours - Instead of getting the number of work hours per day, week, or month, the employer counts the hours worked for the whole year.
Remote Working - There is no need to come into the office. You can work anywhere you want. It is more of an output-based kind of job.
Compressed hours - Employees are expected to fulfill a certain number of working hours. They satisfy this by compressing the number of working days.
According to a study by Zenefits, small businesses are more inclined into adapting this work arrangement because they are trying to cut costs when it comes to the utilities and rent spending. They also have the liberty to do this since their operations are not that large-scaled and they have a small number of people to handle. Workplace flexibility is not recommendable for companies who have factory and power plant operations since this might disrupt the process flow.
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