Going to the office from 9 to 5 from Monday to Friday is now an old memory for many of us. Companies have entered the era of flexible work and are slowly adapting to these new working models. From flexitime to hybrid work to compressed hours, the types of flexible work arrangements are diverse.
Why do so many organizations switch to flexible schedules? How does it impact your workspace? What are the do’s and don’ts when managing a flexible workforce? Introducing more work flexibility requires some adjustments. When established properly, it provides reciprocal benefits to both the business and its workers. At deskbird, our goal is to support you in embracing hybrid work and fostering a people-first culture. For this reason, we decided to answer the most common questions about flexible work. Are you ready? Get comfortable, grab a cup of coffee and let’s learn more about the future of work!
What’s flexible work?
Definition of flexible work
Flexible work includes all working models that give employees more options with their schedules. Although it existed before COVID-19, only a few companies were actually providing this advantage to their staff But the pandemic shook up the way we work. After being forced to work from home, we realized the perks of commuting less and a better work-life balance. Since then, flexible work arrangements are among the top criteria for those looking for a new job. On the other hand, not offering this option becomes one of the most common reasons for quitting. But, as we are about to see, employees are not the only ones who benefit from this new way of working, organizations do too.
Different types of flexible work arrangements
As mentioned, the term “flexible work” includes several working models that all provide more flexibility. Here are the most standard types of working arrangements you can find:
All these flexible work configurations have pros and cons. To know which of them suits your organization best, taking both your employees’ expectations and the company’s needs into account is essential. Combining different types of flexible work arrangements to create the perfect working model is also quite common. For instance, you can offer some part-time jobs for seasonal peaks of activity while your permanent contract includes benefits such as compressed hours and hybrid work model.
How do flexible schedules benefit companies and employees?
Matches the values of a people-first culture
Many value an employee-centric approach more than the payslip they get at the end of the month (as long as it remains fair, of course!) By allowing flexible scheduling, you show your workforce that their well-being, their experience at work, and their needs matter. This directly increases job satisfaction and employee experience. By matching the values of a people-first culture, you foster happiness in the workplace and therefore, higher engagement and better performance.
Improves work-life balance
One of the most attractive assets of flexible work is the personal and quality time employees gain as a result. Due to commuting less (remote and hybrid work), more days off (compressed hours), or more flexibility during the day (flexitime), employees can balance their professional and personal lives better. They can finally dedicate some of their time to self-care, hobbies, and moments with friends and family. Not only do they have better mental health, but they are also in a better mindset and more energized to perform at work.
Increase engagement and productivity
Employee happiness and productivity are deeply correlated and result from the gratitude workers have for flexibility at work. Job satisfaction plays a major role in the workforce’s motivation and performance. When flexible schedules are set up with clear rules and boundaries, their impact helps companies and individuals thrive. The more flexible your teams are, the more balanced they become. This balance leads to a happier workforce that is both engaged and productive.
Reduces office costs
When you allow employees to work from anywhere, you will notice a change in the way your office is used. Workers like to have a place to meet for teamwork, leaving single desks empty and favoring meeting rooms and collaborative areas. Moreover, they usually don’t all come to the office at once. The size of your office and the type of workspaces need to be adapted to these changes. This might mean moving to a smaller office which demands less energy and less individual equipment (desks, computers, office supplies…).
Talent attraction and employee retention
Because it is a fundamental criterion for employees, offering flexible work opportunities is a magnet for talent and helps retain it. As we highlighted last week in our article about working hybrid, this is especially true for Millennials and Gen Z. But even if you have a multigenerational workforce, statistics still show that around 70% of them prefer to work hybrid. Therefore, flexibility is a key advantage to keep collaborating with highly skilled people and remaining competitive.
👋 Start a free trial of the deskbird app and give your employees more flexibility with workspace booking and week planning!
How does flexible work improve productivity?
Improves employee well-being
When employees are unhappy and unsatisfied with their professional lives, it directly impacts their motivation and performance. In the long run, poor mental health at work can have more serious consequences such as employee burnout. But flexible scheduling is fundamental for supporting companies in fostering a positive work atmosphere and sustaining their workers’ well-being. As mentioned, happy and healthy staff are more likely to be motivated and productive than people who perform their job in a work environment that doesn’t fulfil their needs.
Adapts to peak productivity hours
We all have different peak productivity hours. During these periods of time, people achieve far more than the rest of the day because their brain focuses and functions better. Taking this into account can foster employees’ productivity. Flexible work arrangements, especially flexitime, allows workers to benefit from this. Some may decide to work only in the mornings, others in the afternoon, whatever time slot best suits their peak of productivity and helps them focus.
Enables employees to avoid distractions and focus better
While coming to the office is great to meet co-workers and interact in person, it also means being distracted more often. For example, in the office, conversations are going on around you or colleagues are interrupting you to ask a “quick” question. Letting your employees work from home, or a third workplace, on a regular basis enables them to choose a distraction-free working environment. If they enjoy working from their couch and you allow flexitime, they can wait until everyone leaves home to get comfortable and kick start their day!
👋 Are you looking for a solution to easily create a flexible workforce timetable? Discover our week planning feature!
What does a flexible office look like?
Collaborative spaces: people prioritize teamwork when coming on-site
As mentioned, flexible teams usually meet on-site to work on group projects. Therefore, there is a shift in the way office space is used. People used to come every day to the office and have their own workspace but this is no longer happening. Employees wish to have access to meeting rooms and other collaborative areas to sit together, exchange, and enjoy working in person. You can keep a few single desks for specific tasks or for workers that prefer to work by themselves and need to focus. But collaboration is at the heart of the office layout.
Areas for social interaction: the office is becoming a place to meet and bond
Fostering a positive corporate culture is crucial to creating a healthy work environment and employee satisfaction. Workplace connection plays a major role in this aspect. As a reminder, this means that workers feel connected to their job, to the company, and to their colleagues. With a flexible schedule, they no longer see their teammates every day. So when they do, not only do they want to work together but they also expect to have a space to socialize. Team bonding is crucial, especially with a hybrid workforce. Your office layout can support this by offering more social areas like a coffee corner or a chilling zone. Using a hot desking software featured with an interactive floor plan such as deskbird’s also helps your employees book the workspace, they need next to their favorite teammates!
A new design: an employee-centric office space for a people-first work model
If you implement a people-first work model, it means you care about improving your employees’ well-being and satisfaction. This should also reflect in your office design. When coming on-site, flexible teams need to feel as comfortable and motivated as when they work from anywhere else. Are you promoting green practices at work? Does your team complain about the quality of the furniture in the office? Is your workplace design fostering a positive mindset and motivation? Focusing on these aspects is essential to build a physical work environment that increases motivation, well-being, interaction, and workplace connection. You don’t know where to start? Check out our article about how to create a feng shui office in 9 steps and why, it will provide you with some key information!
👋Do you want to know how to optimize space and costs with a flexible office? Learn how you can save up to 30% with these office cost-cutting ideas!
How do you manage a flexible workforce?
Focus on employees’ experience
Although organizations embrace more flexibility to foster employees’ satisfaction and well-being, if not done correctly, it can have the opposite effect. Knowing their expectations in terms of work flexibility is fundamental to avoid this from happening. Do they have the tools they require to work remotely? How do they feel about this organizational shift? Are they happy with the office and remote days ratio? The main advantage of flexible work arrangements is the ability to adapt to the workforce’s and company’s needs. Therefore, we recommend you regularly send employee satisfaction questionnaires to keep improving your way of working.
Provide the right tools to make hybrid work
Flexible teams need a good Internet connection as well as communication and collaboration skills. But most importantly, they must be able to work together seamlessly and efficiently no matter their location. The Internet of Things is everywhere in our personal lives, so why not use it in the workplace too? Digital resources can support teams switching to flexible work. While desk booking software helps solve scheduling conflicts and optimize your hybrid office, virtual reality devices allow your employees to conduct an online meeting as if they were all in the same room. Again, find out what your workers need to embrace all the perks of flexible work.
Create your own flexible work policy
Workers should be able to clearly define what flexible work means and what they can and cannot do. First, each business and workforce has unique needs. Establishing and sharing your own flexible work policy gets people on the same page. Second, it helps create fair and equal practices for all team members. Finding the right flexible working model probably won’t happen overnight. Not only do you have to take into account your employees’ expectations but also what is good for the company. Send surveys regularly, discuss with your team, and analyze what can be improved. You might realize that what works for other organizations does not work for your workforce, and vice versa.
We hope the desk birds helped you better understand all the facets of flexible work and how it benefits both employers and employees. In other words, flexible schedules are becoming a key component for success. Are you ready to give your workforce more flexibility? You’ve already started and you are still figuring out how to manage a flexible office?
Request a free demo of the deskbird app and discover a people-centric desk booking system equipped with essential hybrid work features!
Paulyne is a hybrid work specialist, who writes about sustainability, flexible work models and employee experience.