If you are still unsure about future working trends, then let us break it to you that work from home is here to stay. If we discuss the workspaces of today in a broader capacity, then it’s plain as day that flexibility has taken over a number of sectors. In fact, research suggests that people are much more productive and engaged when they have a flexible working environment.
It is the reason why co-working spaces and other methods that facilitate workplace flexibility have become so popular over the past few years. The corporate sector, especially, is constantly looking for more options to make their working spaces more flexible.
The coronavirus outbreak prompted a mandatory flexible working situation. Unfortunately, working remotely or even in a flexible working environment does not work in all businesses. Let’s discuss how office flexibility can help to improve workplace productivity and have a good effect on the mental health of employees.
As discussed above, a flexible work environment leads to higher staff productivity. The question is, how? Let’s take an example, suppose worker “XYZ” lives 30 minutes away from his workplace. XYZ takes 2 buses to get to his workplace, and by the time XYZ reaches work, he is already tired. If this worker decides to take 2-3 days’ work from home, the chances are that he will not be as drained as he is, because he will avoid the fatigue and time wastage that comes with commuting.
This is probably the reason why productivity had gone up in several industries. Also, since most employers had no choice but to work remotely, they worked hard to develop efficient remote communications systems to facilitate the shift. More than half of the employees and employers prefer to work from home at least 2-3 times a week post-COVID. This was the opposite before the COVID-19 virus outbreak, reflecting the drastic change in employee and employer behavior after the virus.
Did you know that flexible work timing actually enhances communication? It is a common perception that communication suffers in remote working conditions. However, these past 3 – 4 months have proven otherwise. Platforms like Zoom, Google Hangout, etc. have played a crucial role in enhancing communication and improving team collaboration. There are also better chances of seeing everyone in the same place and omits the hassle of gathering everyone under the same roof.
There is also the added advantage of seeing more people at the same time. The hassle to coordinate with people for their physical presence is way more than seeing them on a Zoom call. Moreover, people have also found more creative ways to collaborate with people and effectively communicate. Virtual meetings are also a good way for those introverted employees who are too shy to present their ideas when they are face-to-face with people. Being behind the camera makes them more confident to present their ideas in front of higher management.
We can list the benefits of flexible working spaces, but there is also the need for physical work. There are some things which can’t take place without being physically present. For example, you can’t manufacture goods without being present at the factory. Therefore, a full-time remote is also not entirely successful. There has to be a middle way when it comes to flexible working spaces. If employees are taking 2-3 days’ work from home, it is also important for them to show up 2 days full-time. Necessity is the mother of invention – with people being forced to work from home, there has been widespread innovation and creativity to improve the collaboration among the workers.
Due to the current trends in workplaces, there has been the concept of co-working spaces for enhanced communication. In this case, people from all hierarchal levels are supposed to sit in one place, this is known to improve communication effectiveness, and most importantly, it helps to flatten the hierarchal structure. With the regular staff and Managing Director sitting in one place, there are more chances of finding solutions and being more innovative. Projects which have strong cross-functional communication have a higher chance of being successful as decisions are made faster, and solutions can be derived easily.
A somewhat “hidden” advantage of remote working spaces is the cost cut-down. You can save tons of cash in the form of office resources when your employees are working from home. You also save on utilities and office resources such as kitchen supplies, bathroom supplies along with utilities such as heating, cooling, and water consumption. Moreover, since employees are not spending on the commute, there is also cost-saving on fuel consumption, and you won’t have to give the employees travel allowance. The money saved through this can be spent on giving employees advantages such as bonuses, etc.
Flexible working spaces can be difficult to manage as there are high chances that people can deviate from their tasks. Therefore, if you are opting for a remote working space, then it is important to pay attention to proper planning from the very beginning. A remote working model means being more organized with task delegation and other functions as well. It is often stressed to plan accordingly and in advance so that people don’t miss out on the point. Moreover, systems need to be put into place that can access people remotely and keep a check on their working hours. Moreover, when you are hiring people, you can try to adjust more in-house working hours for fresh employees. If these practices are not followed, then there are high chances of the entire system to go downhill real fast!
With a remote working facility available at the workplace, the managers take over an entirely different role. They have to manage the team remotely and make sure that they are just as efficient or even more. This can be quite a challenging task, especially if the team is big. Therefore, it is extremely important to develop a set of rules that help people stay aligned with their tasks. It can also be difficult to maintain discipline and make sure that everyone is doing their tasks in the right way. Moreover, since different people have to be managed differently, it can also be challenging to do that remotely. For example, someone who is freshly hired will have to be treated differently as compared to someone who is a slow worker, and someone who is already good at their job might not need too much attention.
Companies will need to change their workflows if they implement flexible working hours. If employees are not physically present, it will definitely affect how things are done. With increasing telework, managers will have to employ new models of working that ensure employees are working efficiently. For instance, employees of a carpet cleaning outfit used to check-in their attendance at the office at the start of their shift, but now they do so remotely with the help of a mobile application. Not only has it abolished the need for physical presence, but it has also made attendance more transparent.
However, there are still a lot of elements that will remain the same. The concept of one-on-one meetings is one of those elements that will always be the same – remote or not. However, there are a lot of things that need to be supervised in a stricter manner when it comes to remote working since managers have to work harder to make sure that everyone is working on the same agenda, and everyone knows what is required from them.
With trends changing everywhere, there is a constant requirement for companies to stay vigilant with the changing trend. There is also a big possibility that the change will be met with resistance within the organization. If you are introducing such measures, make sure that you are giving a valid argument to help people embrace it as well. You should also invest in some training for your employees to facilitate the transition. The need for high-resolution video conferencing is essential when it comes to remote workplaces, along with user-friendly tools that allow faster communication. There is also a pressing need for efficient project management and marketing tools that will help to improve team collaboration and coordination.
When organizations offer flexible work timings, they are able to find talent more easily because it abolishes geographical constraints, and it also makes employees more eager to commit to an organization that understands their needs. This also improves the chances of employee retention and eventually leads to a higher success rate at organizations. A diverse workforce has more chances of creating a better work culture.
However, in such cases, team communication may become an issue, and managers might have to take extra measures to overcome this issue. This is why we have discussed that project management tools and team communication tools are necessary when you have opted to build a flexible working environment. If this issue is taken care of, the rest is a smooth road, which leads to improved performance, happier employees, and increased efficiency.
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