Workplace flexibility is far from a new concept, but it's become especially important over the past few years. The COVID pandemic required businesses to effectively adapt to a world where flexible work and remote options were necessities, and it permanently changed the way people thought about work.Employers and team leaders learned flexible businesses can still be productive, perhaps to an even greater degree than they were before. And workers fell in love with the freedom flexible work gave them. Flexible working for frontline workers is expanding at a rapid rate.
However, while some companies have successfully embraced workplace flexibility, others still struggle to transition. Here's a closer look at why it's so important and how today's businesses can successfully integrate it into how they do things.
What Is Flexible Working for Frontline Workers?
Naturally, workplace flexibility will work differently for each company. However, it will always involve allowing workers more control over their workdays and breaking away from a traditional 9-to-5 setup. Examples include changes related to:
- The number of hours worked.
- Where the work is completed.
- Which hours of the day the person works.
Sometimes, workplace flexibility means being allowed to work 100 percent remotely from home (or any other place of the worker's choosing). But in others, it may involve a combination of remote work and traditional workplace attendance.
What Are the Benefits of Workplace Flexibility?
Integrating the idea of workplace flexibility into your business plan comes attached to many benefits, not only for your workers but also for your business. Here are a few key examples to consider.
Workers enjoy a better work-life balance.
Experts often define work-life balance as the equilibrium between a person's professional and personal lives – something becoming increasingly important to modern workers. People with better work-life balances are happier overall and more likely to report feeling satisfied and productive at work.
Burnout is less of an issue.
Many modern workers consistently identify their jobs as the biggest source of stress in their lives. The more flexibility you allow a worker, the less they report feeling overstressed by the job. It reduces issues like burnout and associated health problems.
Businesses can access larger talent pools.
Workplace flexibility doesn't just benefit the workers. The freedom it brings to the table benefits your company as well. For instance, embracing workplace flexibility lets you tap into a significantly wider talent pool instead of limiting your choices only to locals who can commute to a single physical location.
Flexibility leads to a healthier bottom line.
Flexible working for frontline workers is a more cost-effective way for digital-age companies to get things done. Workers, either partially or entirely remote, won't be as reliant on their employers to provide them with a workspace, equipment, food, etc.
What Are the Most Common Challenges of Flexibility?
Although workplace flexibility is quickly becoming the new normal for some genuinely excellent reasons, many businesses still resist the idea. Common challenges to the idea include:
- Fear of change: Many companies don't see why they should change something that appears to be working fine and are concerned about the consequences.
- Loss of workplace culture: Company culture is significant to many of today's companies, and employers may believe their unique culture depends on in-person attendance.
- Concerns about commitment: Many employers associate an employee's sense of ambition or commitment to their job with their willingness to work traditional hours within an equally traditional office setting.
- Concerns about productivity: Some employers don't trust frontline workers to remain as productive in an environment that embraces flexibility.
- Implementation difficulty: Employers are concerned that making the shift to a more flexible system will be prohibitively difficult, and they aren't sure where to start.
Concerns like these are understandable, as work schedules and workplace settings were the only way for a long time. But the benefits of flexible working for frontline workers are clear, and they're available to many companies across multiple industries.
Modern solutions like cloud workflow software, real-time conferencing options, and more make implementing and maintaining a productive working environment that benefits everyone easier than you might think.
How to Implement Workplace Flexibility
How flexible frontline workers should look for your company depends on your business needs. Let's dive into how to make sense of your options and make a choice that will work for you.
What Does Workplace Flexibility Look Like in Action?
The following are some common approaches modern businesses adopt to offer better workplace flexibility:
- Compressed work schedules allow employees to work longer shifts at a stretch to get more days off, enjoy half-days, etc.
- Flex-time schedules involve departing from the standard 9-to-5 schedule by changing the hours worked or allowing workers to choose their own hours.
- Part-time schedules allow workers the option to work fewer than the standard 40 hours a week.
- Remote work puts the option to work either partially or entirely from a home office (or other location of the worker's choice) on the table.
- Hybrid options find workers completing some workdays in the office and others remotely.
How to Implement Flexibility in the Workplace
Once you've established which of your options is the best fit for your company and your workers, it's time to implement your new system. Here are some tips.
- Start by drawing up an official policy on flexible working hours, complete with detailed terms. Share it with your workforce and go over their options with them.
- Consider implementing more than one option for employees to choose from. Offer different work patterns and provide a system for swapping shifts.
- Leverage the benefits of flex-time options that allow workers to make ongoing adjustments to their schedules as needed.
- Consider implementing job-sharing options that allow more than one worker to fill a single company position.
You must thoroughly train managers and leaders in how to run a flexible work environment before they put your new policies into action. They should take care to set goals and expectations that are both clear and realistic, so workers know the standards.
Properly leveraging technology is the key to success to make a flexible work environment for everyone involved. Think cloud-based workflow software, video conferencing interfaces, and similar tools professionals can easily access from anywhere.
Regular communication is also essential. Managers and leaders should ensure new workplace systems include regularly scheduled daily or weekly meetings, conferences, and check-ins. Consider implementing a combination of group meetings and one-to-one meetings for the best results.
How to Measure Your Success
Naturally, you must monitor and evaluate any workplace system, and a flexible work system is no exception. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Know what you're hoping to accomplish by embracing flexible working for frontline workers. Is it better talent retention, higher worker engagement rates, or something else entirely?
- Keep an especially close eye on before-and-after productivity rates. Note whether they change and in what ways.
- Track and evaluate metrics that speak to worker satisfaction via both traditionally collected data and direct feedback. Include overall worker satisfaction, as well as worker perception of company support.
- Monitor your company's overall return on investment (ROI). How has your new system affected productivity, engagement, profits, customer satisfaction, and so forth?
Analyze collected data and feedback thoroughly. Then implement tweaks and changes to your workplace flexibility schedule as needed. It won't be long before you've created something that works as well for your company and its management as it does for your workers.
Leveraging business solutions from companies like Pixentia can help take the guesswork out of successfully transitioning to a more flexible way of doing business. Get in touch today and let us know how we can help you take the next steps.
- Explore The Benefits of Flexible Work
- Unlocking Employee Potential: A Guide to Performance Planning
- Reap the Rewards of a Well-Managed Hybrid Workforce
Pixentia is a full-service technology company dedicated to helping clients solve business problems, improve the capability of their people, and achieve better results.