What is workplace flexibility?
Workplace flexibility lets employers and employees adapt their working conditions to their needs, creating a healthier work-life balance. This is also commonly referred to as a flexible workplace or flexible work arrangements.
What are the benefits of workplace flexibility?
For you and your employees
A healthy work-life balance benefits everyone. It can greatly improve both physical and mental health, which improves overall well-being. Flexible work arrangements can allow more rest and time for health, reducing the risk of fatigue, stress, and burnout, as well as reducing the likelihood of developing an overuse injury.
Workplace flexibility can make work accessible for people with disabilities and/or caring responsibilities. It can also recognise that emergencies, accidents, and illnesses can occur to anyone at any time, and allows required time off work.
Remote working reduces time spent commuting, potentially reducing stress and allowing more time for personal life. Flexibility on the location of work can allow more control over the work environment and offer a much greater choice in where to live as well.
For your business
Improved well-being from workplace flexibility will lead to greater productivity and staff retention. It improves diversity and tracks talented candidates for your business.
A flexible workplace could encourage more innovation and creativity, as you and your staff feel more comfortable and willing to brainstorm ideas. It can also increase independence and decrease disruptions as your employees rely less on your “approval” to get things done.
Flexibility within your business itself allows it to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. This could be from new market needs or a new business direction. It also helps navigate your business through unanticipated events, such as illness, injury, or as we all know, a global pandemic.
Examples of workplace flexibility
Flexible work hours
If possible, flexible work hours can greatly promote a healthy work-life balance for you and your employees. This may include:
- negotiating start and times to fit in with personal needs such as school drop-offs and pickups.
- allowing time off medical needs; health is always top priority.
- allowing time for unexpected events.
- adjusting work hours to parts of the day when you or your employee are naturally more productive. This can be an efficient way of getting the work done, instead of relying on four cups of coffee to get through.
Tools and equipment
Not everyone can use the same equipment. I, for example, use a touchpad computer mouse as I am unable to operate a standard mouse. A simple fix can be the difference between a task being accessible or not. This may include improving clunky outdated software. Promoting openness and respecting individuals’ needs can sort huge barriers and prevent major problems down the track.
Remote working allows people to work from a location other than a centralised office. This may be working from home, in a co-working space or in a private office. A hybrid model where employees work some days at home and some days at the office may be the best solution. For more on working from home remotely, see our hints and tips.
Implementing workplace flexibility doesn’t happen overnight
Workplace flexibility is an evolving concept with new ideas cropping up all of the time. It requires open and honest discussions of everyone’s and the business’s needs, which isn’t easy. Adjusting work conditions requires consistent reflecting and tweaking. Some trials may not work for you, your business, or your employee. That’s okay. An alternative approach may work or it may work in the future. Being open to the need for improving flexibility in your business is far more important than getting the right result the first time around.
What are some examples of workplace flexibility in your business? What would you like to implement in the future? Let us know in the comments below!