Just about a decade ago, the world used to run on a 9 to 5 work culture, and many of us were part of it. However, in the past few years, especially during the covid-19 lockdowns, the corporate culture has taken a “forced” turn—work from home.
The change in organizational work culture started before the covid-19 pandemic when businesses focused on creating a task or project-oriented teams. The goal was to achieve targets rather than sticking to fixed working hours. The focus was on “get things done” rather than “how to get it done.” In simple words, businesses shifted to flexibility in work practices.
But the question stands; is work flexibility a blessing? How does it benefit businesses? What are its drawbacks? The Marketing Tutor has tried to answer these questions in this blog post.
What is Work Flexibility?
Work flexibility or workplace flexibility is a part of organizational culture where employees are expected to achieve their assigned goals or tasks in their preferred way rather than within pre-defined work hours. Employees can choose how, when, and where to work. However, it is important that the work method must align with organizational goals.
Workplace flexibility is based on employers’ understanding of human behavior. Employers who implement flexible work practices believe that employees need to be productive and motivated to achieve their individual and organizational goals. However, sticking to a strict or dictated working regime can dent their effectiveness. Therefore, they prefer employees to choose their own working hours as long as they get things done timely and accurately.
Why is Flexibility at work Important?
Modern-day employers are realizing the importance of a happy and motivated workforce. Besides, work flexibility has been a major contributor to reducing employee turnover and burnout.
Moreover, highly skilled professionals now prefer a flexible working environment. That’s one of the biggest reasons why people are switching to freelance jobs.
Studies revealed that 78% of employees felt more energetic and productive in a flexible work environment. Similarly, 77% of employees stated that workplace flexibility is a major factor for them while considering a job opportunity. In short, employees need freedom and the right to get things done their own way.
Advantages of Flexibility in Workplace
Work flexibility benefits both employer and employee differently. Here is how;
- More time for personal and family needs. 9 to 5 job means you are bound to give 8 straight hours of your day to your employer. This work culture can be very challenging for working parents and may cause depression and burnout. A flexible working system gives them enough time for their family/personal needs while staying focused on their work.
- More job satisfaction. A massive number of employees quit their jobs because of dictated or forced workplace culture. Being able to choose your work time, place, and way of doing things makes employees more confident and satisfied with their jobs.
- Boosted productivity. Being productive for 8 straight hours is almost next to impossible, and it can cause burnout. Unproductiveness is one of the major reasons why employees fail to achieve their targets or goals. Work flexibility gives them the chance to give their most productive hours to their work. A productive employee is always a great asset for the business/employer.
- Low employee turnover. Workplace flexibility is equally beneficial for employers. For starters, a flexible work environment leads to job satisfaction. A satisfied or happy employee will rarely switch to another organization, reducing the employee turnover ratio. Employees nowadays prefer flexible work culture over high-paying and time-bound jobs.
- An attraction for a skilled workforce. Workplace flexibility always attracts people with strong skills and experience. A pool of great employees can take your business to where you intended it to be.
- Free marketing. An employee is your company’s brand ambassador, and a satisfied employee always creates a positive image in public. Workplace flexibility is a significant factor in employee satisfaction, and it is directly connected to free positive marketing from your happy employees.
- Reduction in business expenses. Flexible working approaches like remote working, freelancing, or telecommuting helps business reduce their expenses. For example, the company can deduct traveling allowances or reduce utility bills by hiring remote workers.
Disadvantages of Flexibility in Workplace
Where work flexibility leads to productivity and satisfaction for employees, it has its side effects too.
- Can Lead to Less Productivity. How can a flexible workplace lead to less productivity? Yes, employees love freedom, but a highly flexible or less concrete working structure can also lead to reduced workforce productivity. Accountability is an important part of team culture in businesses, and leaving everything in the hand of employees may break the workflow. Not every employee is self-motivated, and flexible work culture may reduce the sense of accountability in such cases.
- Can Lead to More Procrastination. Procrastination is a normal part of our life, and it often happens in our workplaces as well—nothing to worry about, right? However, the problem starts when an employee keeps procrastinating in flexible working conditions. Procrastination leads to delaying things which, in the end, it can cause depression, and we all know where depression leads to.
- It Means Working from Home. Working from home sounds like a great work practice, but it has its own disadvantages. For instance, it takes time to train your mind for this. An official or business workplace gives you different vibes which are difficult to feel in your home office. Second, you cannot ignore the distractions you may face in your home. Kids playing near you, loud music in your neighborhood, and lack of interaction with your colleagues can contribute to frustration and lack of attention.
- Management and Employees issues. Where a flexible work environment favors employees, it adds a burden on managers. You don’t have to be a genius to understand that managing a remote workforce is harder. Employees working remotely or on different schedules make it burdensome for managers to keep track of everything. It becomes difficult to assess the actual work progress, and managers may have to realign their work schedule. This ultimately leads to conflict between employees and managers.
How to Facilitate Flexible Work Environment—Examples of Work Flexibility
How to facilitate a flexible work environment for your workforce? Companies are already using different ways to help their employees balance their personal and work life. Here are some examples of flexible work practices in organizations.
Job sharing is a work arrangement where two more employees agree to take up one job position. Employees in such circumstances work as a team and are responsible for delivering the agreed results. However, it is important to settle job pay, benefits, responsibilities, holidays, and other affairs before recruiting such employees.
Companies hire remote workers as full-time or project-based employees. Remote workers, as the name suggests, can perform their work duties from anywhere in the world.
Freelancing is a category of remote working, but freelancers can work with multiple clients at the same time. Freelancers usually work on time-based or project-based jobs, and there is no formal agreement between employers and employees.
Telecommuting is a blend of office-based and remote work. Employers allow employees to work remotely and attend the office 1 to 3 times a week. Google also implemented a mixed approach, allowing their employees to work from home for 2-3 days a week.
Compressed Workweeks is another common work practice where employees complete their weekly work quota/requirement (40 hours) in the first 4 days of the week, followed by 3 holidays. Employees may start earlier or finish late to complete their quota. This gives them an additional day off, and they may save traveling expenses.
Flex Hours/ Customized working hours
Flex or customized working hours is an arrangement that allows the employees to choose their work hours. It is important to note that weekly work hours remain the same. Employers and employees can decide the working hours that suit both parties.
Businesses hire employees for part-time jobs (usually reduced working hours) on a permanent or temporary basis. Part-time workers are generally hired for less important work and help companies reduce their expenses because part-time employees are generally not entitled to healthcare or other benefits.
Workplace flexibility is the need of the hour, and to be honest, it has its own perks. It not only helps improve employees’ productivity and job satisfaction but also reduces business expenses. However, it is important to make sure that employees stay on track and get things done effectively and timely.