Today’s knowledge workers increasingly expect flexibility in the workplace. They understand that work-life balance is essential for their mental and physical well-being, and want employers to provide them with a company culture that prioritizes work flexibility and ample time for a vibrant personal life. This has led to a shift in the way managers and employees alike think about work and personal time.
Many believe that the future of work lies in creating environments that encourage creativity, where employees are respected and trusted to create their own work schedule, rather than micromanaged into following a traditional 9-to-5 rhythm. Let's take a closer look at why flexible work cultures should be embraced by company leaders who want to attract and retain high-performance professionals.
The Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements
Flexible work arrangements can offer a variety of benefits for both employees and employers. For starters, it can empower employees to better manage their workloads to minimize stress and avoid burnout. A flexible schedule alone can increase productivity since individuals are working during times when they are most productive and energized, and able to step offline in case of an unexpected event in their personal lives. Additionally, it allows employees to be present for personal responsibilities such as taking care of family members, or engaging in leisure activities that recharge them mentally and physically.
Workplace flexibility has been shown to increase employee satisfaction and retain employees, which leads to higher levels of engagement and long-term loyalty towards an organization. Allowing employees to experiment with flexible arrangements tends to make them feel more valued by their employers, which leads to greater job satisfaction overall. Employers benefit from a flexible work arrangement as it reduces costs associated with things like absenteeism or employee turnover, as top talent are more likely to stay with an organization if they feel supported in their personal lives.
Workplace Flexibility & Work Life Balance
Providing employees with a flexible work environment also sends a strong message that managers trust their team members and respect their time outside of the office. This helps foster an environment where in-person and remote employees feel comfortable enough to communicate openly about their needs and expectations of work life balance without fear of repercussion from management or colleagues. Top workplaces already prioritize psychological safety to boost collaboration between employees, a key factor in a high-performance work environment.
The future of work lies in providing flexible working options for knowledge workers and career paths that honor employee flexibility. Many workplaces already offer unlimited PTO, but if the leadership team doesn’t have a flexible mindset, they may schedule project timelines in a way that prevents employees from taking advantage of this benefit. Job sharing, or cross-training employees across departments, is one way to make unlimited PTO work.
Another post-pandemic working trend to create a better work life balance and higher employee engagement is the four-day workweek, which gives employees flexible scheduling options that blend in-person and remote work. It may seem counterintuitive, but working fewer hours can increase total productivity in the long term by preventing burnout. A four-day workweek also may provide employers with cost savings associated with office amenities like lunches and coffee.
Are Managers Ready for True Work Flexibility?
As leaders look for ways to increase their competitive advantage, retain high-performance talent, and meet business objectives, workplace flexibility is a critical differentiator. As top remote workers have options from all over the world, they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to where they provide their professional services.
Regardless of leaders’ personal opinions about where and how work should be performed, it’s critical they adopt new ideas for a flexible workplace, including policies that demonstrate adaptability, improve performance, and keep morale high among staff members. By embracing office policies that enable workplace flexibility, such as remote work options, unlimited PTO, or a compressed workweek, managers send a strong message to employees and job seekers that trust is valued over micromanagement. This creates an environment where collaboration is encouraged and success is shared among all team members.
Giving employees the benefit of the doubt when it comes to working from a remote location is critical. It’s tempting to assume that one employee isn’t working hard if they aren’t in front of the computer at the same hours as a manager or colleague. One way to mitigate this risk with a global workforce is to have employees share their work calendars and local time zones.
Will every office of the future be a flexible workplace? We certainly hope so. Flexible workplaces are more dynamic, better equipped to a changing environment, and create better employee engagement. When employees can prioritize their well being and determine their own schedule, they’re better able to show up for their families, loved ones, and communities. Life is about more than simply work.