The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had – and continues to have – on the world will be felt for many, many years to come. But even...
CultureMay 16, 2019
The standard 9-5 work day is gradually becoming a thing of the past. Your needs as a business owner have changed, the needs of the customers have changed, and of course, your employees’ needs have also changed. When it comes to rostering staff and setting working hours, one-size fits all no longer applies, so it makes sense that we would become more flexible in how we accommodate workers.
As we look for ways to balance busy personal and professional lives, one employee may need to work from home two days a week, while someone else may be suited to moving to a four-day week. There are all different solutions when it comes to flexible working hours.
Yet flexible working doesn’t have to exclusively benefit the employee. There are business benefits too, ranging from greater workplace morale to increased staff retention. Employees who can also organise their work around their personal lives, interests and working preferences can also be more engaged and productive.
A major report from the University of Sydney Business School Does this desk make my job look big? researcher and Lab Fellow Tony Roderick interviewed eight organisations who had an ‘All Roles Flex’ policy, finding that the benefits were widespread — for both employees and their employers.
“Most organisations interviewed were very aware that access to flexibility is a key driver of employee attraction across age groups, gender and types of employment,” he says.
“Employers realise that current and prospective employees expect them to be bold and creative in offering different ways to access flexible work, whether through activity based working environments, policy shifts, and technology to enable shift swapping or innovative approaches to enable more secure flexible work.
“This focus on the pull-factor of flexibility has driven a range of responses from employers keen to keep the best people and manage turnover costs.”
With the data suggesting the workplaces of the future are flexible, let’s take a look at some of the business benefits of flexible work.
According to a two-year study from California’s Stanford University, researchers found that not only did flexible working arrangements increase productivity, it also saved the employer $2,000 (USD) per employee. There are fewer distractions at home, and it’s much easier to focus when there’s no superfluous meetings, casual colleague drop-ins or constantly ringing phones. Productivity improvements may also be due to the fact that people feel a need to work harder to justify their arrangement.
It sounds counter-intuitive right? That managing employees who aren’t even in the office could be easier? But it’s true, managers are finding that off-site employees who have adopted a more flexible approach to work are easier to manage.
With their productivity already going up, flexible employees also feel added responsibility to make sure their workplace runs smoothly with as little disruption as possible while they work remotely. That means they tend to go the extra mile to make sure they are accountable, transparent in their work and hitting their usual deadlines.
Employees are more likely to stay in a workplace that helps them balance their personal and professional lives. Flexible work is an added incentive to staff and a gesture from your business that they are valued, not just as employees, but as people with interests and obligations outside of work. Businesses that tailor their practices to the needs of their staff is a signal that you want them to stay. It has the dual benefit of retaining the talent and corporate knowledge you’ve created, while avoiding the cost and hassle associated with recruiting and training new staff.
Modern jobseekers actively search for roles that will provide them with greater flexibility. When you can advertise that your business offers flexible working arrangements, you become a more attractive option for prospective talent. You put your business in a position to attract professionals that perhaps you wouldn’t have been able to hire otherwise.
Offering flexible work is a statement that you value your staff, and people who feel valued perform better. It encourages higher levels of performance, collaboration and creativity. When employees feel as though they have more autonomy over their day, they are more likely to push themselves harder for you. You may also find that employees are more engaged with each other, with you, and the job.
Roderick’s study certainly suggests that businesses should start implementing more flexible working practices:
“Although there continue to be cultural factors and change management challenges in shifting attitudes, the positive impact from flexible work approaches is clear … “All Roles Flex” approaches have positive and sustained impacts on employee engagement, attraction and retention, productivity, profit and career advancement,” he concludes.
Keep in mind that there are also requirements for considering and responding to any requests for flexible working arrangements from employees.
If you need support managing a transition to a more flexible working arrangement or responding to a flexible working request, we can help you. Contact Us for a confidential chat about developing policies and procedure to support flexible work in your business and learn how we’ve helped other small businesses manage staff, workplace obligations and entitlements.