65% of employees are looking for a new job, according to a survey conducted by PwC. And one of the reasons that leads them to consider the change are the benefits of work flexibility. Enjoying more autonomy, having work-life balance facilities or being able to work some days from anywhere, are now becoming compelling reasons when thinking about where we want to develop our careers.
However, this model has many positive points for companies as well. In this article we’ll take a closer look at these advantages and other issues related to flexible working.
We’ll talk about:
- What does flexible working entail
- What are the benefits of flexible working for the employee?
- What are the benefits of flexible working for the company?
What does flexible working entail
The concept of flexible work or flexible hours refers to the loss of rigidity of the traditional work model that results in employees being able to make decisions about where and when to work taking into account their personal needs. We cannot provide a more accurate definition because, in reality, there are different models depending on the situation of each worker.
“Flexible working refers to the loss of rigidity of the traditional work model that results in employees being able to make decisions about where and when they work”
Flexibility for someone who has to care for their elderly mother may mean being able to leave work early to take her to a doctor’s appointment. For a father, it might mean coming in later so he can walk his kids to school. For others, it might simply mean having a couple of hours off in the middle of the day so they can eat lunch and go to the gym.
Therefore, flexible working must be open, adaptable and must take into account the preferences of each team member. Provided, of course, that it ensures the work continues to be done efficiently. It does not imply either working fewer hours or failing to meet deadlines previously agreed by the company.
Different models of flexibility
Technology has allowed us to disengage from the workplace, which has led to different models of flexibility:
- Flexibility in the workplace: this is the model known as hot desking. There’s no permanent place assigned to each employee, but the worker can decide the office space from which to perform their duties each day.
- Flexibility of entry and exit: consists basically of companies offering a range of hours for workers to choose the times of entry and exit of their working day. In this way they can organise themselves as they see fit.
- 4-day working weeks: this is a new trend taking place in countries such as Japan and Norway that focuses on concentrating the working week in 4 days instead of 5. We could say that this model is still in the testing phase, but very interesting results are being obtained in terms of productivity, commitment and stress reduction.
- 20% from home: thanks to new technologies, workers can cover part of their working hours from home without causing any disruption to the company. Google or Salesforce are just some of the companies that have joined this hybrid work model.
Unfortunately, these models are not for everyone. There are jobs that by their very nature cannot be done from home or that prevent the employee from adapting their schedule to their needs. We are talking about, for example, health workers or people who provide services to the public, such as shop assistants.
In some cases, they may have shift schedules, a rotational model in which one worker substitutes for another within the 24-hour frame, through weekly or monthly shifts, in 8-hour days.
Working mornings, afternoons or evenings means losing the benefits of having a structured routine, but it also gives the worker flexibility. It offers free mornings for running errands or time in the afternoons to take care of the kids after school.
What are the benefits of flexible working for employees?
Employees see flexibility as an advantage that allows them to manage both their work and private lives.
- Greater autonomy: the worker decides where and when to perform his duties, within the framework established by the company.
- Work-life balance: one of the main benefits of flexible working is that it facilitates a better balance between work and personal life.
- Improves production: not having a fixed work schedule makes performance much more based on results and objectives.
“Employees see flexibility as an advantage that allows them to manage their work and personal responsibilities.”
- It fuels creativity: thinking “outside the box”, in this case, literally means thinking outside the cubicle you are assigned in the office. Changing the environment and deciding how and when we work are ingredients that stimulate the creation of new ideas.
- Less stress: managing our time according to our needs makes us feel less constrained within limitations that can sometimes cause stress. In addition, greater work flexibility would change the way cities work, with a decrease in traffic jams that also leads to a decrease in stress for employees.
What are the benefits of flexible working for the company?
Having happy and satisfied employees within the company is, in itself, beneficial for the company itself. However, the flexible working model brings other specific benefits to organizations, beyond cost reduction:
- Improve talent retention: allowing your employees to work flexible hours reduces turnover, as well as the cost of recruiting and training new employees.
- No borders for talent: flexible working offers the possibility to look for human resources wherever the best people are, no matter if the new member of your team works hundreds of miles away.
- Increases diversity: not only does it allow to have employees from different locations, but it also opens up the possibility of keeping employees with very diverse personal situations and interests on staff.
It encourages women, for example, not to put their careers on hold when they become mothers. This is undoubtedly a first step towards closing the gender gap in the top positions of companies. Moreover, according to a 2019 study, companies with a diverse workforce have better results.
The benefits of flexible working affect both the employee and the company. And while it’s sometimes scary to embrace changes of this magnitude, leaving the rigid traditional work environment behind is a first step to continued success in the future.