In a business world absorbing more and more millennial employees, the demand for flexible work schedule is greater than ever. But, this demand would definitely not be so often fulfilled, if there were not strong reasons to encourage flexible working.
What does flexible working mean?
First of all, flexible working should not be misunderstood for when management gives staff a little breathing room in the usual 9-to-5 routine i.e. “You can come between 8 and 10 and you can leave between 4 and 6.” Flexible working at its core is about trusting your employees to deliver the results you need when they feel they best can deliver them and in the best location for them to do so.
Today’s digital economy that offers many tools that foster flexible working. Huge advancements in device and cloud technology have spawned dozens of tools and ways of communicating that enable most of us to work from anywhere and at any time, as long as we have an Internet connection.
As a result, more and more people desire better work-life balances, too, and if the workplaces at which they work are unable or unwilling to offer them that, they are quick to look elsewhere.
There’s no escaping the fact that flexible working doesn’t suit each and every industry or individual, but its benefits should definitely be given full consideration by any company looking to grow.
Benefits of a flexible workplace
Higher product and service quality
If employees are allowed to work when they are at their most productive, the quality of their output should improve dramatically because they will only work at peak performance every time they work.
Work on something when you are not at your best is frustrating. Having to toil away at a project when your heart is not fully in it, simply because your hours dictate you have to, is even more tiresome than the actual work and will almost inevitably result in a product that needs to be revised.
Lower carbon footprint
With fewer people travelling to the office on a regular basis and far less equipment being used each day, your workplace will inevitably incur lower energy costs upon adopting flexible working.
On top of reducing your cost of production (through considerably lower utility bills) reducing your carbon footprint but can also be a very valuable promotional tool with today’s eco-sensitive public.
Lower IT overheads
The bring your own device (BYOD) culture has permeated many workplaces all over the globe, with employees eager to use their own laptops, smartphone and tablets in getting their work done.
While this BYOD culture inescapably presents a number of security challenges for IT teams, they can be overcome, and if your company is able to invest in the right form of device management software, enabling your employees to use their own devices to be productive both while in the office and at home will significantly reduce your business’s reliance on costly onsite servers and devices.
5 reasons to adopt flexible working
Modern workers want to operate outside of the 9 to 5 boundaries. They want a better work-life balance and the ability to choose the hours during which they are likely to be most productive.
This desire for flexible working hours is often misunderstood by conventional managers and easily dismissed as a request to do less or spend less time at the office, but in reality, it is just an employee seeking a more suitable way of delivering in their role, and this can only produce good results.
Perhaps most importantly, flexible working will make your employees happier by giving them more satisfaction in their jobs. Flexibility breeds happiness, and a happy staff is the cornerstone of any successful business. Happy employees are more productive employees – it’s that simple.
Lower hiring costs and turnover
As explained above, flexible working can greatly increase your employees’ job satisfaction and overall happiness as a whole because it allows them to work only when they feel most ready to.
Satisfied staff are more likely to hang around and even stick with your business when it is going through rough times, thus reducing turnover and the subsequent hiring costs that follow.
Equally, if your company is seen as a business that actively promotes flexible working, word will get around and enable you to hire people far quicker (and the best at that) – again reducing hiring costs.
Wider talent pool to choose from
Many potential employees out there are not even bothering to apply for certain jobs. This is because many organisations are still stuck on the default 9-to-5 routine for all their available positions.
Once you place less emphasis on standard working hours, you open your recruitment doors to a much wider talent pool. This is especially true for millennial workers who prioritise flexibility.
For example, if a particular project requires a skill that you are struggling to find locally, setting it up in such a way that remote workers can operate during hours that best suit them means that you can look to foreign countries for the best talent despite the difference in time zones.
People who work flexible hours do so when they feel most productive. For some, that will be first thing in the morning before most people have exited their beds. For others, it might be late at night.
Your employees should be able to pick up the task at hand at whatever time of the day they feel most productive. If they are bound by standard working hours, they might even burn the candle at both ends, working longer than is strictly necessary and hence seeing the quality of their work suffer.
When people work at the time they feel works best for them, they are also prone to make fewer errors in executing their job descriptions thus delivering a consistently high quality product/service.
Teams that operate on a flexible working basis are more likely to work cohesively together. Because they all operate under the same flexible rules, they are more willing to step in to cover each other.
For example, if someone needs to take a few hours out of their morning in order to tend to an important family matter, the remaining team members will understand and provide the relevant cover, because they know the same would happen if they had to do the same.
Flexible working teams are also less likely to clash compared to conventional teams that see each other every day simply because they have fewer interactions and most of them are work-related.
It is worth highlighting again that flexible working doesn’t suit every industry or individual. However, the list of benefits it has to offer should be considered by every business.
If flexible working can be implemented in any small way within your organisation, staff satisfaction and happiness is likely to increase as a result – leading to greater productivity and a higher quality product/service.