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Fitting in Flexible Work Arrangements

In order to attract and retain talented employees, businesses are increasingly turning to flexible work arrangements. By empowering employees to choose their own schedules or work from anywhere, businesses create a more productive, effective, and trusting environment.

It’s 2021! Employees shouldn’t have to ask permission to pick up their children this afternoon. Successful businesses trust employees to do their jobs well and organize their schedules like adults. That means out with the nine-to-five and in with flexible work arrangements. The only challenge now is figuring out which flexible work model to implement, and how to create a flexible work policy that will work for your employees, and you, without introducing any employee inequality.

An Introduction to Flexible Work Arrangements

To varying degrees, flexible work arrangements, are policies that empower employees to work where and when they want.

For some companies, it makes sense to go fully remote, allowing employees to work from anywhere at any time. Many other businesses are currently adopting a partial work-from-home policy or hybrid model. In this instance, employees may work a few days in the office and a few days from home. Other organizations may offer flexitime work, or fully customizable work hours, wherein employees can make their own hours to fit their busy lives. As return to work plans gain steam for many companies, employees are pushing back, and not only requesting flexibility but demanding it.

Designing for Flexibility in the Workplace

Implementing a flexible work arrangement requires consideration, communication with employees, and a willingness to modify existing policies as new data emerges. Though it isn’t always easy, flexible work is fast becoming the global norm, and companies that don’t offer these arrangements may find themselves left behind.

Flexible work can make businesses more innovative and agile. But does that mean all businesses should go flexible right away? Probably not. Restaurants, for example, are unlikely to tell servers they can choose their own hours or work from home. However, most businesses are adding flexibility into the mix, wherever possible, leveraging remote work tools to keep their workforce united and productive.

The other dilemma when designing for flexibility is figuring out how to fairly offer it to everyone, and if this is even possible.

The Inequality in Flexible Work

Not everyone has equal access to flexible work. Famously, during the pandemic, wealthy people with white-collar jobs had the freedom to work from home. Meanwhile, “essential workers” — too often the lower-paid people of color with the difficult and dangerous jobs — continued to work set hours on-site.

When we talk about creating flexible work arrangements, it is important to remember that these arrangements have so far only been accessible to the privileged. Moving forward, it will be important to create more inclusive and equitable systems of flexibility to help address inequalities.

Flexible Work Schedules Benefits

There are clear flexible work schedules benefits for both employees and employers. While employees benefit from the autonomy and freedom to organize their own schedules, employers benefit from the increased talent pool they have access to, among other perks we will dive into below.

Increased Diversity

Offering flexible work schedules not only makes businesses more appealing to talented employees, but it helps them to recruit a more highly qualified workforce. It also allows them to work with employees whose schedules or lifestyles would usually prevent them from having a typical 9-5 job.

That means employers can create a more diverse and inclusive environment. This will ultimately mean a more creative, innovative, and resilient workforce.

For example, women are typically left out of the workforce when they begin raising children because of antiquated gender norms that keep them at home. Offering flexible work arrangements may be one way to get new mothers back into the workforce — giving businesses a chance to benefit from their expertise.

Boosted Productivity

According to Gallup, organizations that offer job flexibility show 41% lower absenteeism, 40% fewer quality defects, and 21% higher profitability compared to those that don’t. Flexible work arrangements drive better business outcomes by encouraging more engagement and productivity in the workforce.

Improved Retention

Work flexibility creates a satisfied workforce, which usually means increased employee loyalty and an improved retention rate.

Flexible Work Schedules Examples to Try Out

The idea of a flexible work schedule can mean different things to different people. One flexible work schedule example is a compressed schedule, in which an employee can work a traditional 35-40 hour workweek in less than the traditional 5 days. For example, an employee might work an extra hour a day for 8 days, and then take an extra day off.

Others might be interested in flexitime work. In this arrangement, employees can organize their own schedules around their lifestyles, making time for after-school pick-ups or early morning errands. Flexitime work allows employees to catch up on any missed hours when it makes the most sense for them.

For others, part-time work may be a good solution for busy schedules and employers can use job-sharing to maintain productivity. Regardless of the model you use, it’s important to find the one that best suits everyone’s needs. If you need some inspiration, take a look at some of the top companies offering flexible work arrangements to their employees.👇

Top Companies with Flexible Work Arrangements

Here’s our round-up of the top tech companies with flexible work arrangements.

Google - A Large-Scale Hybrid Workplace Model

While Google has announced that employees will be returning to the office in September of 2021, it has laid out a plan to drastically change the way employees work. They plan to pilot a “flexible workweek” model in which employees will come into the office three days a week for “collaboration days” while working from home the rest of the days.

Fujitsu - Maximize Autonomy for an Empowered Workforce

Japanese tech firm Fujitsu plans to broadly implement flexible hours and remote working wherever possible. According to a statement Fujitsu sent to the BBC, the company expects to create “a more empowering, productive, and creative experience for employees that will boost innovation and deliver new value to its customers and society.”

DuckDuckGo - Work Wherever, Whenever

Dark horse search engine and start-up DuckDuckGo take a “work wherever, whenever” approach, giving employees full control over their schedules. Employees are trusted to get their work done on their own time. Instead of typical office-first communication models, DuckDuckGo uses online asynchronous tools to “connect and collaborate across time zones.”

Best Practices for Creating Flexible Working Policies

Flexible work has become the worldwide standard. That means that developing a policy for flexible work is of the utmost importance. Here are our flexible work arrangements best practices to help you build your policy.

Ask Employees What They Want

Each business’s flexible work arrangements policy will look different, depending on what works for both the organization and its employees. That’s why it’s important to communicate with employees and find out their needs before implementing a policy. Ask yourself what is most important to your staff, and if you can accommodate it.

Run a Pilot Program

Don’t commit to a specific work arrangement until you are sure that it will work! Instead, run a pilot program testing out the arrangement with a particular team or department before opening it up to the rest of the company. That way, you can spot any possible problems before they get serious.

Make Sure Employees Have the Right Tools

Flexible work arrangements are very empowering for employees, not to mention a force for greater equity and equality. However, they can only work if the organization has tools in place to facilitate remote and asynchronous communication.

By using a tool for asynchronous collaboration, employees can stay connected wherever and whenever. They can meet and collaborate across time zones, and bringing their best ideas to the table every time, no matter what type of flexible schedule they're on.