The right flexible work approach can benefit everyone
Prior to the pandemic, some companies offered flexible working arrangements. Then everything changed, and many were forced into a remote workforce almost overnight. Today, companies are reaping the benefits of workplace flexibility, including greater employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.
At its core, flex work makes it easier for employees to achieve a better work-life balance. Workplace flexibility practices aren’t limited to working from home. Other examples include flexible work schedules, compressed workweeks, and job sharing. Companies benefit when employees are able to deliver their personal best.
Here are a few essential recommendations to consider when adopting workplace flexibility best practices.
Setting Expectations: Employees may enjoy the perks of working from home. However, they still need the support and guidance they had in an office environment. The key to managing flexible working arrangements is to set clear expectations. Be sure to communicate clear deadlines, collaboration expectations, and measures of success.
Communication: To sustain the benefits of workplace flexibility, HR and leaders need to communicate proactively to ensure employees feel well-informed about important decisions. Communication is one of the characteristics of good management. Find convenient meeting times so everyone can participate in communication efforts. Identify which of the many messaging, video conference and file-sharing platforms support the best communication methods for your organization, and use them in unison.
Encourage Flexibility in All Aspects: When managing flexible work arrangements, keep in mind that flexibility means different things to different people. Companies need to encourage their employees to think creatively and work with managers and teammates to find an arrangement that supports workplace flexibility for everyone. The workplace must also consider barriers that prohibit a flexible approach, from family care to technology.
Focus on Measuring Outcomes: Adapting to best practices for working from home requires a mindset focused on outcomes rather than processes. While it may seem counterintuitive, giving employees greater control over how they work can ultimately lead to greater productivity. An outcome focus also gives employees a clear understanding of performance expectations and the metrics that will measure their work.
Accountability: Personal accountability plays a vital role in shaping best practices for flexible workplaces. Employees should understand they will be held accountable for the results of their work and productivity, even if they are working from home. Measuring outcomes and transparently communicating those results can establish benchmarks to keep employees inspired, engaged, and accountable.
Companies that offer different types of flexibility in the workplace stand out as employers of choice with forward-thinking approaches that focus on the changing needs of their employees. Flexibility is appealing to current employees as well as top talent in search of a work-life balance. Employees will be more productive and committed to your organization.
Bob Helbig is media partnerships director at Energage, a Philadelphia-based employee survey firm. Energage is The Washington Post’s partner for Top Workplaces.