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Types of flexible work: examples and best practices


April 19, 2024


April 22, 2024

You know offering flexible work opportunities to your team members is paramount, but do you feel a bit lost about where and how to start?  There are many types of flexible work, from location to schedule and contract flexibility, the possibilities are (almost) endless. Moreover, while some flexible work arrangements might work for a company, they can be a total disaster for another. Considering your industry as much as your employees’ expectations and needs is crucial. While some workers might crave more geographical flexibility, others might not mind coming on-site daily as long as they can enjoy the perks of flexitime. Here is a quick guide to help you understand this complex but essential shift in our approach to work and embrace a model based on flexible working options in the most successful way possible. 

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Different types of flexible work arrangements per category

Flexible work can take many forms. We are not going to discuss each one in detail, as we’ve already written a full article describing the most common examples of flexibility at work. But we’ve listed most of them below so you can have an idea of the different options possible. They are sorted into three categories: location, schedule, and contract types.

Location flexibility

The types of flexible work based on location refer to the practice of allowing your staff to perform their tasks from various places instead of mandating daily attendance in a traditional office setting. This flexibility can include working from home, co-working spaces, or even geographically distant sites. Either you determine when and where your team members can work (e.g., 2 days at home, 3 days at the office), or you go fully flexible and let them choose. The last option enables employees to decide the environment that best suits their work style and helps them balance personal and professional responsibilities more effectively. Flexible work arrangements that are location-related include:

  • remote work only;
  • remote-first;
  • fixed hybrid;
  • hybrid at-will;
  • office-first.

Schedule flexibility

Schedule/time flexibility in the workplace is an arrangement that allows employees to change their working hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule. This can take the form of flexitime, where workers choose their start and end times, compressed workweeks with longer daily hours but fewer workdays, or part-time schedules tailored to individual needs. This concept accommodates personal commitments and preferences, promoting a healthier work-life balance while ensuring that core business hours are covered and operational goals are met. This type of flexible work approach includes:

  • compressed hours;
  • annualized hours;
  • shift work;
  • four-day weeks;
  • result-based.

Contract flexibility

Flexible work can provide various contract options beyond the standard full-time employment model. These alternatives cater to individuals seeking work that aligns with their lifestyle, caregiving responsibilities, or other personal commitments. You can attract a diverse workforce, optimize human resources for fluctuating business needs, and better support your employees’ preferences. This approach includes:

  • job-sharing;
  • temporary contracts;
  • freelancing;
  • part-time.

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Location flexibility: man working at park

Tips to choose the best types of flexible work for your team

Avoid blindly copying other companies’ approach to flexible work

Copying another company’s flexible work strategy can be counterproductive as it may not align with your organization’s unique operational needs, corporate culture, and workforce dynamics. Each business has a distinct set of goals, employee expectations, and customer demands that shape its optimal work environment. A flexible work model must be personalized. What is effective for one firm may disrupt productivity and morale for another, making a tailor-made approach, developed through careful consideration of company-specific factors, essential for successful implementation.

Consider your operations and industry

When selecting the best type of flexible work for your teams, it’s crucial to consider the company’s operations and industry. Each sector has different demands. For instance, manufacturing might need an on-site presence for machinery operations, while a tech firm could thrive with remote work. Adapting flexibility to operational necessities ensures that productivity stays high without compromising service or product quality. A well-fitted, flexible work model maintains efficiency and employee satisfaction while being mindful of industry standards and business workflow.

Analyze your workforce profile and needs

Before implementing flexible work arrangements, it is critical to analyze employees’ profiles and expectations to ensure that the chosen initiatives align with their needs and work styles. Different roles, life stages, and private circumstances dictate how people can best balance their work and their own commitments. For example, Gen. X doesn’t have the same expectations as Millennials or Gen. Z. Understanding these personal factors allows you to tailor your flexible options. This is fundamental to increase job satisfaction, improve performance, and boost retention rates. In essence, customizing work flexibility fosters a supportive environment that recognizes and accommodates employee diversity.

Discuss with your employees their preferred types of flexible work

What might seem like the best type of flexible work model for you might not be the same for the people who actually experience it in practice. Therefore, engaging in dialogue with your staff about their needs and preferences is vital to determine the most suitable type of flexible work. Surveys and direct conversations can reveal what structure supports their productivity and well-being best. Including your team members in the process promotes an employee-centric approach, fosters a sense of value and empowerment, and can significantly enhance their performance. This collaborative method ensures that flexible work policies are not only beneficial for the organization’s success but for everyone in the workplace.

Be open to combining multiple flexible work options

There is no one-size-fits-all in the world of flexibility at work. The best strategy to answer both your employees’ expectations and the company’s requirements is to adopt a multifaceted approach to flexible work. In other words, you combine various arrangements to meet diverse workers’ needs. For instance, you might implement a hybrid at-will work model, where people choose whether to work on-site or remotely while also facilitating flexitime options, letting them set their own work hours. Additionally, you can provide an assortment of contract types, from full-time to part-time or freelance, creating a comprehensive flexibility program that caters to the unique lifestyle and work preferences of each team member.

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Man working from home office on laptop
Man working from home office on laptop

Flexible work best practices for a successful work environment

When shifting to more flexibility in the workplace, many aspects must be considered to get the most out of it. deskbird’s blog articles aim to support you in this regard, so you can dig into them after reading this piece. If you don’t have time for this now, here are the most important best practices to be aware of when implementing flexible arrangements in your work environment.

Use technology to support your flexible work practices

The rise of digitalization has greatly facilitated the adoption of flexible work practices, as technology provides the necessary infrastructure to support a fluid workforce. Flexible workplace management systems like deskbird, encompassing workspace booking software, office analytics, and week planning features, are integral to creating a thriving, flexible work environment. These systems enable seamless management of space and resources, allowing for both advanced scheduling and on-the-fly adjustments. Thanks to these tools, you ensure that the physical workplace adapts to the flexibility of modern work timetables and employee preferences.

Adapt your office space to your approach to flexible work

Adapting office space for flexible work is crucial to boosting productivity and efficient resource use. Determining the right office space size avoids underutilizing space and reduces overhead costs, while hot desking ensures that available desks are used effectively by staff without fixed stations. An agile office design with various work zones caters to different tasks and work styles, enhancing employee satisfaction, well-being, collaboration, and performance. Additionally, the office layout’s impact on productivity must be considered to support a dynamic, versatile, and people-centric work environment.

Promote a structured approach to flexibility

Keeping structure within a flexible approach to work is essential. Creating and implementing a clear, flexible work policy ensures everyone understands expectations, rules, and procedures. With this framework, you grant your staff the autonomy they need while maintaining accountability and cohesion. Setting such boundaries also helps prevent miscommunication and potential abuse of the system to guarantee that flexibility doesn’t compromise overall productivity or team dynamics. By designing and sharing a solid policy, you give your employees the confidence to embrace flexibility, knowing how to use their options responsibly.

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Man on virtual meeting
Man on virtual meeting

Make communication and transparency everyone’s priority

When embracing work flexibility, transparency and communication are pivotal, regardless of the type of flexible work you choose. Clear communication from your side sets expectations for your flexible workforce and fosters trust. Meanwhile, your employees need to keep their managers and colleagues informed on their work and availability. 

Transparency promotes accountability and mutual respect. Efficient and regular communication between team members is also critical in such a flexible setup. It ensures seamless collaboration, sustains productivity, and creates a sense of belonging despite physical distances. This open dialogue maintains the integrity and effectiveness of the team, which is central to a successful, flexible work culture.

Focus on maintaining workplace connection and a sense of belonging

Fostering practices that cultivate workplace connection and a sense of belonging is paramount when adopting flexible work arrangements. Team bonding activities, such as virtual team events or in-person meetups, help sustain the organizational culture and mitigate feelings of isolation. Developing and encouraging these practices is crucial for maintaining team unity, promoting cross-collaboration, and enriching employee engagement. deskbird supports you in this regard thanks to its people-centric features, such as our office events and week planning features. A well-connected team, where members feel they truly belong, typically increases satisfaction and productivity, which are vital to the overall success of flexible work initiatives.

Adapting to the evolving work landscape by embracing different types of flexible work offers numerous benefits, including enhanced employee satisfaction, talent attraction, and operational efficiency. However, the success of implementing the right flexible work arrangements lies in thoughtful customization to fit the unique needs of your company and your workforce. You must consider industry demands, workers’ expectations, and technological capacities when choosing between all the available flexible work options. Establishing clear policies, fostering workplace connections, and creating the right balance of flexibility with structure are also essential steps to integrating flexibility without diminishing a sense of community or productivity. Do you want to discover how we can support you in creating the best flexible work environment for your team? 

Request a free demo of the deskbird to experience our user-friendly features and see how our technology helps you make the most of your flexible work!

Types of flexible work: examples and best practices

Paulyne Sombret

Paulyne is a highly respected expert in hybrid work. She's known for her writing on sustainability in the hybrid office, flexible work models, and employee experience. With a strong background in content and SEO, her work explores the exciting trends and latest news in the world of work.

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