By Alisa Sainoski

It’s raining and you are in your cosy bed and your alarm is blaring, so you hit snooze and wish you could go back to sleep.  Now think, What if?

What if, your hours were different and instead of waking up during the best part of your sleep, you don’t have to because you have a flexible work schedule where 3 out of 5 days you start later and the other 2 you start at the normal time being 9am to 5pm?  Or you have the option to start whenever you liked as long as you have worked the appropriate hours were it is subject to achieving total daily, weekly or monthly hours within the “bandwidth” period set by employers, and subject to necessary work being done.  If you are a night owl or an early bird having a flexible workplace could lead to benefiting the employer and the employee.

Working from home has many flexible attributes which scream compromise.  Below we look at the flexibility which can be achieved by working from home.

There are reduced costs for the business when a team is encouraged to work from home.  Hot-desking schemes where employees use communal seats and computers on the days they come into work is one way of better utilising office space for a flexible workforce (subject to COVID-19 cleaning requirements).  It is becoming increasingly popular in many offices as it is giving business opportunities to increase headcount without having to pay for a larger office space.

Productivity, as we could see from the COVID pandemic, has in a lot of cases, increased when working from home.  If an employee has the ability to work remotely, they save time (and stress!) on commuting, meaning they may be inclined to start work earlier and finish later due to the decrease of traffic headaches.   Employees working from home are cautious and tend to want to prove themselves and demonstrate they are effectively working from home justify the arrangement.  Many employees work harder than ever to deliver results and it helps employees relish their role which in turn can mean valuable increased productivity and performance.

Happy and motivated employees tend towards increased creativity.  Employees who are enthusiastic about their jobs are likely to be grateful for flexible working hours and may be more inclined to engage with their organisations and make a valuable contribution.  Professionals who have a flexible work arrangement are encouraged to ‘think outside the box’ and are usually more innovative.  Once these employees who are fortunate enough to work from home come back into the office, they become more actively involved in the office and are more willing to offer more creative ideas.  It could be creative ideas which improve work processes, ongoing projects or general working culture.

Working from home eases up the input needed from their managers, as employees are more eager to work flexibly they may cause as little disruption as possible.  Further flexible work opportunities may arise if employees can prove they are easy to manage on a non-standard shift.  Professionals and motivated employees will be heard from when they need to collaborate with colleagues or managerial input is necessary, as they are in most cases simply busy doing their work.

Offering flexible working hours to employees can boost staff morale and improve their physical and mental well-being.  Employee well-being is a key concern for many managers across companies, and rightly so. Taking steps to encourage employees to have passion and enthusiasm for their job can be critical to retain top talent.  When staff members enjoy flexible work arrangements, they are likely to be less tired and better rested, reducing the risks of fatigue, burnout and stress. As a result, they will be able to give their all on a daily basis.

As an employer there are benefits when offering flexible working hours, as it may assist employee retention efforts.  Many employees view being offered flexible working hours as a sign they are valued by the company. Those who have other responsibilities or out-of-work interests may see flexible work arrangements as an absolute must or a deal-breaker for any organisation they work for.

Offering flexible work arrangements may allow employers to recruit talented candidates who would otherwise have been out of their reach.  Some professionals actively look for jobs which will allow them to work flexibly. It could be they have childcare responsibilities or voluntary commitments, and are looking to achieve a better work-life balance.

In terms of flexible working, the potential advantages for employees are well-known, including an improved work-life balance, greater autonomy and employee motivation.

But it’s important for employers to recognise the business benefits of flexible work arrangements too. It’s not just staff members who stand to gain from such initiatives, as organisations can reduce costs, improve output and increase loyalty when schemes are implemented in the right way.

When flexible working is used appropriately with the necessary level of buy-in from both employers and employees, it can be to everyone’s advantage.

Being flexible as an employer does not only mean having the option to work from home.  There is flexibility when working from the office as well.

Workplace flexibility in the office is offering flexible work schedules.  As an employer it could increase your ability to provide extended hours of operation which is especially important for departments such as customer service.  Even having the option of starting later to avoid traffic jams could lead to having an extra hour or two after five pm for clients to be seen who are also working, instead of them missing out.

Typically, a flexible schedule involves either a compressed work week or flexible starting and stopping times.  In a compressed work week, the most common schedule is a four-day work week where employees work for four ten-hour days, variations on this schedule could include three twelve-hour work days, etc.  This scheduling flexibility allows employees to have an additional day or two to relax, spend time with family and friends or pursue activities and causes which interest them.

As an employer you should think about the benefits of having a flexible working place. It could save you time and energy in the long run.

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