The modern employee is more flexible than ever before and as they begin to return to office, they are bringing a new flexible mindset with them. To accommodate the ways in which your employees have evolved as they’ve been working remotely, organizations need to create a more flexible workplace culture if they have any hopes of retaining these employees and scaling their business alongside their individual growth.

Organizations are only able to scale when they have the capacity for growth. Without taking the time to lay the necessary groundwork first— like hiring a talented and diverse team, developing a strong network of partnerships, investing in the necessary tech tools and software and streamlining all processes and key functions— you run the risk of experiencing unstable growth, as opposed to the desired long-term scaling that you’ve been preparing for.

Whether your organization is composed of fully remote, in-person or hybrid employees, you’ll need the combined power of their efforts and specialities in order to successfully scale your organization in a meaningful way. But before you can reap the benefits of their efforts you first need to meet them where they are by creating a workplace for them to succeed. A workplace that is reflective of their new hyper-flexible mindset by incorporating less restrictive policies, multipurpose workspaces and modern, alternative schedules into your organization’s standard practices.

Why is flexibility important in business?

The nature of business is that it’s always changing and evolving. Industry trends are constantly shifting like the tides and it's the responsibility of individual organizations to navigate the new waters in order to stay afloat. Likewise, businesses are only as successful as the joint effort of their employees allow them to be. For businesses who plan to do more than just tread water, it’s necessary to stay in-tune with the personal and professional needs of your employees on an individual level. And for the modern employee, that means increased flexibility in the workplace.

Even before COVID-19 ushered in the great remote work migration and forced employees all around the world to adopt more flexible workstyles in order to productively navigate the transition from the company office to their home offices, the desire for flexible schedules and policies was on the rise due to:

  • 89% of companies reporting better retention rates because of their flexible work options.
  • 79% of companies believing that flexible workspaces played a role in their businesses’ success.
  • 87% of professionals think that holding a flexible job would lower their stress level.
  • 97% of professionals claim that flexibility in their jobs would have a positive impact on their overall quality of life.
  • 76% of workers said they’d be more than willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
  • 73% of employees said that having flexible work arrangements increased their work satisfaction.

Numbers don’t lie and when they are this overwhelmingly in support of flexible policies, workspaces and schedules they are also hard to argue with. If your organization is yet to incorporate more flexible workplace environment changes then it’s time to ask yourself what it is you’re waiting for.

Creating the Ultimate Flexible Work Environment

Before you begin crafting new policies and redesigning your office spaces, take the time to first survey your employees about the changes they’d like to see. After all, they are the ones who are going to be most directly affected by the increasingly flexible policies and practices.  To avoid the possibility of wasting time drafting policies that aren’t ultimately a good fit for your employees, hear from them directly about which flexible schedules would be best for their workstyle and which new office setups would best optimize their productivity and support their responsibilities. 

Change is a good thing— for scaling organizations, it’s also a necessary part of the process. But change simply for the sake of change is not sustainable. To enact real, enduring change to your organization that genuinely supports the needs and desires of your newly flexible employees you need to take their lived experience into account.

Flexible Policies

One of the primary benefits of incorporating flexible policies in the workplace is that they lead to lower rates of turnover. When you think about it, it makes perfect sense. It’s as simple as employees no longer feeling supported by their workplaces and therefore leaving to find the support they need elsewhere. While turnover is a natural aspect of any organization, the cost of recruiting, onboarding and training new employees has never been higher (it can amount to up to two times the employee’s salary). With 66% of employees saying that they’d take a pay cut for increased flexibility at work, it’s clear that the longer it takes for you to incorporate flexible policies at your company the higher your chances are of losing talent to companies that do.

To lower your turnover rates and create policies that support a flexible work-life balance, begin drafting these flexible policies today:

  • Hyflex policies that allow employees to always work when and where they are most productive
  • Ample paid vacation (or unlimited vacation days)
  • Progressive maternity, paternity and adoption paid leave for all employees regardless of where they work from
  • Generous sick leave policies
  • Sabbaticals or extended work breaks
  • Paid time off to volunteer

Flexible Workspaces

Flexibility in the workplace doesn’t stop at the policies you create to support your employees, but it extends to the very spaces they are working from. Whether your teams are working from the office or remotely on any given day, it’s your responsibility as their employer to support them in any way you can. Oftentimes, when flexible workspaces are discussed the focus is on changes that can be made to an organization’s headquarters and primary office space. But for companies with employees working on various flexible and hybrid schedules, if you aren’t also investing time and resources into supporting their remote workspaces then you may be inadvertently neglecting entire teams or departments.

To best support all of your employees, regardless of where they are located, consider incorporating these flexible workspace changes:

  • Rewire your office space to support hybrid collaboration
  • Create rooms in the office for meditation, yoga or prayer
  • Support employees as they create their own home office setups (Only 20-25% of companies pay or share the cost of home office equipment)
  • For remote workers without home offices, companies should pay or share the membership cost of shared workspaces
  • Redesign your office space with remote and hybrid workers in mind

Flexible Schedules

Flexible schedules are another aspect of modern professionalism that existed before, but was highlighted by the pandemic. According to Ana Recio, the executive vice president of global recruiting at Salesforce, this emphasis on more flexible schedules is largely due to the new, younger generation of professionals and their inherent desire to create healthier work-life balances for themselves. “They have proven the model that you don’t need to be in the office 9 to 5 to be effective,” said Recio. “This generation is single-handedly paving the way for the entire workforce to do their jobs remotely and flexibly.” And in addition to being a popular desire for employees, flexible schedules also lead to happier and more motivated employees.

Just like your employees themselves, flexible schedules come in various degrees of flexibility. Some of the flexible schedules that you can begin offering to employees include:

  • Core hours (74% of employees are in favor of working on a schedule of core hours)
  • Meeting free days (80% of employees agree that there should be atleast one day a week with no meetings at all)
  • Remote work policies
  • The option to work from home up to three days a week
  • Hybrid schedules designed to support employees working around childcare schedules
  • Flexible schedules for distributed teams working from multiple time zones
  • Compressed work weeks or 4 day work weeks
  • Daily flexible schedules for highly independent employees

Flexible Career Growth

With the traditional business models of the past giving way to data-driven and results-driven practices that match the modern employee, so do all aspects of professional life, including career development. Traditional career paths for employees where someone starts in a certain department, gets promoted after a certain number of years and ticks off all the boxes on the rubric for the individual contributor or people manager don’t apply to every employee. 

The “traditional career path” is gone in favor of accommodating individual employees’ career goals. If you manage a marketer with an interest in data science, encourage them to take a course or shadow a developer who is great with data visualization and manipulation. Rather than creating an environment where employees are scared to reveal career aspirations for fear of losing their job, create a space where you can mentor, offer guidance, and motivate your team. It pays off in retention rates, job performance and employee happiness.

For organizations looking to make a lasting, not soon forgotten impact on their industry all of the signs are pointing to the need to embrace flexibility. The needs of the modern employee have changed and the support that they require from their employer has changed along with them.

To ensure that your organization has the capacity for growth and the ability to evolve alongside your workers, create flexible policies, procedures and spaces that are able to scale with your organization. To get you started, here is the only blueprint you need to prepare for the return to office. Download the Tools for Navigating the Return to Office guide today.

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