Working from home and flexible working systems used to be every employee’s dream. After all, who wouldn’t want to avoid the long commute hours and bring more life/ work balance into their lives?
Before COVID-19, a meager 17% of people worked remotely five or more days per week. After COVID-19 the stats boomed to 44%. Some people enjoyed it, some didn’t, and most agreed that a hybrid working model is the best way to go.
Obviously, there are plenty of benefits to remote work, just as there are plenty of benefits to in-office work too. What HR and Facility Managers are struggling with right now is finding the right balance between the two -- the balance that not only makes the business fruitful but also gets the employee buy-in so necessary to success.
If you are an HR or Facility Manager, you should definitely know that a flexible working system comes with benefits on the business side of things too. It’s not all about making your teams happy (although that’s evidently a very important aspect). It’s also about numbers, cost, and improved sustainability.
Read on to find out more.
What Is Flexible Working?
When thinking of the term "flexible work", most people think of "flexible hours" -- which is not wrong in itself, it's just that it's a bit incomplete.
To start with, "flexible hours" is, in itself, poorly understood too. Most people think of the term as something that describes "the possibility to come in a bit later and leave the office a bit later too". In fact, however, there are as many shades to this as there are colors in a rainbow (OK, not quite, but close enough):
- Annualized hours (meaning that you'd have to work a certain number of hours over a period of 12 months, and you can be flexible about how you organize them)
- Building your work schedule around school hours, your kids' activities, or parent care arrangements
- Shift working (and alternating between different types of shift)
- Term-time work (meaning you don't work during school holidays, for example)
Flexible working is also about much more than just the times of the day (or week) you choose to dedicate to, well, working. It's also about:
- Work location flexibility (e.g. being able to choose from working from home, a co-work space, or a business’ premises)
- Workspace flexibility (e.g. whether someone wants to work from the couch on the hallways or from a large meeting room)
- Changing from full-time work to part-time work (and the other way around)
- Job sharing (allowing employees to share their tasks with someone else)
... And the list goes on. In short, flexible work is just as flexible as you want it to be, which is why it's so important to keep in mind that there are as many shades of the relationship between the way we work and our lifestyles as there are colors in a rainbow. If you think back, many probably said: "That's not unusual". After all, those different shades and shades and shades and shades and shades (you really don't need that many more pictures, do you?) were completely normal for hundreds of years before flexible working was invented.
On the surface, it seems that flexible work is all fun and games for employees, but rather iffy for employers. That is not the case, as you will read further on in this article.
Benefits of Flexible Working Systems for Human Resources Managers
Human Resource managers will find plenty of advantages in bringing more flexibility in the workplace. Some of the most important ones include:
Flexible working can help companies to retain and recruit good quality employees and retain and recruit better quality employees.
Flexibility can bring you cost-efficiency; for example, if you work from home, your commute is reduced and you’re not paying as much as otherwise for parking space.
Better Employee Satisfaction
If your employees like flexible working systems, they will be more motivated and happy. With those happy employees, your company will have less turnover, which means that it will be less expensive to hire new talent.
Improving HR Metrics
Flexible working systems can help improve the performance of HR metrics such as absenteeism and extended sick leaves.
Building a Better Organizational Culture
Flexible working can help you improve your organizational culture and company values. It might seem counterintuitive, since people are more likely to spend more time apart, but in reality, hybrid workspaces can provide everyone with their ideal workplace culture.
Improving Work-life Balance
This is one of the biggest advantages of flexible working, and one which is more widely known; by giving employees more flexibility you can help them achieve a better work-life balance.
Access to a Wider Talent Pool
Not being limited to your geographical location when you recruit talent can be a real asset for your Human Resources team. After all, you do want to attract and retain the best talent, and flexible working allows you to source potential candidates pretty much everywhere in the world.
Benefits of Flexible Working Systems for Facility Managers
Facility managers will also find plenty of benefits in flexible working systems. Some of the most important ones include:
If people work from home, you will save on office space and on furniture, as well as other products used in an office (water, soap, and so on).
It will be easier for your employees to work from multiple locations, reducing the need for offices in big (or small) buildings.
Less Effort in Maintenance
Building a nice office is one thing. Making sure it stays up to date and engaging is an entirely different affair, though. If the people in your company are offered a hybrid workplace option, though, you are less likely to invest time, effort, and money in office maintenance very often.
Safety at Work
Among other things, COVID-19 has also redefined our understanding of “safety” at work. Switching to a flexible working system can help you keep up with the new safety regulations, including creating socially distanced office spaces, reducing office capacity, and allowing employees to come into the office feeling safe.
Building a Flexible Workplace Strategy, the Right Way
For all of you who are just about to start working on your own flexible workplace strategy, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Evaluate your organization’s culture, work habits, and job requirements
The first step is not to drop everything and work on the strategy right away. First, you need to make sure that there is a genuine need for it. This means that you have to analyze your organization’s culture, work habits, and job requirements -- that way you will be able to identify which areas are candidates for flexible working.
Identify the benefits of flexible working
Once you have identified which organizations can benefit from a flexible working system, it is time to analyze the benefits that you can gain from it. It is also important to determine whether there are any disadvantages. In other words, you need to find out everything that makes the organization’s culture reluctant to introduce flexible work systems.
Identify potential challenges and why they can be overcome
It may seem strange, but there’s a big difference between a challenge and a problem – although both are often seen as quite similar. For instance, technology might be a challenge when it comes to adopting a hybrid workplace -- but it doesn't have to be a problem (as there are many tools that can help with office booking, communication, project management, and so on).
Flexible working systems are not just good for employees -- they are also great benefits for HR and Facility managers. They can help both businesses and employees achieve better results, more efficiently, with less money spent. For the right reasons. And that’s why they’re so important to have in place today, especially in a post-pandemic context.