The past few years have been filled with unpredictable changes, so it’s no surprise that flexibility is top of mind for employees. When it comes to conversations around workplace flexibility, remote and hybrid work usually dominate discussions. But a flexible workplace goes beyond just where employees work—it’s about creating a culture of self-management and autonomy.
What is workplace flexibility?
Workplace flexibility gives employees the opportunity to decide where, when, and how they work, and even what sort of work they do. This means that work may not fit into traditional hours, locations, or processes. Instead, employees complete their tasks in a manner that works best for them. Through this flexibility, employees can produce higher quality work while also meeting the demands of their personal lives.
What does a flexible workplace look like?
There isn’t one ideal model to follow because flexibility looks different for every organization. For some companies, flexibility may be allowing employees to work remotely permanently. However, there are many jobs where remote work isn’t possible, which can lead to a divide between remote and onsite workers. In this case, other flexible offerings like condensed workweeks or training opportunities may be needed. Even flexibility needs to be flexible.
To have a truly flexible workplace, it starts by igniting conversations and engaging all employees—remote, hybrid, and onsite. It’s important to let employees define what flexibility specifically means to them.
Types of work flexibility
Flexible work arrangements will depend on the needs of your employees and your business. Not all types of flexibility will be right for your workplace, but it’s important to keep an open mind. Flexibility can include all types of working arrangements, from varying work hours to employee education opportunities or meeting-free days.
Here are a few examples of arrangements that can create more flexibility in the workplace:
Flex time: Employees work full days with varied start and finish hours to accommodate their needs.
Remote or hybrid work: Remote employees can work from anywhere. Hybrid teams alternate between working onsite and remotely.
Compressed workweek: The increasingly popular four-day workweek involves employees working four eight-hour days, with or without a reduction in pay.
Flexible time off: Employees can take time off for any purpose whenever they need.
Reduced or part-time hours: Employees work less than the standard hour workweek with a reduced workload.
Gradual retirement: An employee’s hours and workload are slowly reduced rather than abruptly ending.
Benefits of workplace flexibility
Workplace flexibility is a win-win. Employees can achieve a healthy work–life balance and organizations can improve workplace culture and retention and hiring efforts. These are a few of the benefits that can come with offering flexibility at work:
Increased efficiency and productivity
In a 2021 survey by Gartner, digital workers said that flexibility is the key driver for increased productivity. When you give your employees the freedom to work when and how they feel the most productive, they can finish tasks more efficiently and produce higher quality work. For some employees, factors like long commute times or finding childcare can be a big distraction. Eliminating some of those stressors can help your employees improve their focus.
Attract and retain high-performing employees
The needs of employees are changing. When your organization can meet those needs, job candidates and current employees take notice. In the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey, more than half of employees surveyed from around the world said they would consider leaving their job if not given some flexibility in terms of where and when they work. With the high costs of turnover and onboarding, increasing flexibility in your workplace can ultimately help you save time and money.
Increased efficiency and productivity
Showing that you trust your employees to get their work done in a way that is best for them can lead to higher job satisfaction. Flexibility helps increase overall mental wellness. It allows employees to feel like they can succeed professionally without sacrificing their personal wellbeing. In fact, work–life balance now outweighs salary as the top incentive for Canadian workers.
How to increase flexibility in your workplace
Flexibility can help create a stronger work environment, promote a healthier corporate culture, and cultivate deeper job satisfaction and productivity. Because there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, it will take thoughtful planning and consideration to find arrangements that meet your employees’ needs. To help you get started, our HR experts have put together a Guide to Creating a Flexible Workplace. Download our FREE guide to learn about different approaches you can use to generate more flexibility in your workplace!