Why Flexibility Should Be Part of Any Innovative Workplace Culture
While modern companies have gladly embraced elements of an innovative workplace culture such as digital transformation, experimentation and collaboration, other innovations have been slower to catch on. One throwback to the 1960s in particular continues to hang on: the assumption that more hours spent in the office equates to more work getting done. In reality though, asking employees to sit at their desks for 8–10 hours everyday is more of a recipe for poor performance than productivity. Let’s look at some statistics to gain a bit of perspective:
Working long hours on a strict schedule increases stress, which can lead to employee health problems such as high blood pressure.
The average worker is only productive for about 3 hours out of a standard 8-hour workday.
Due to the pressure to work more, many people exaggerate the number of hours they work. If someone says they work 80 hours per week, 50 or 60 is likely closer to reality.
It’s time to reconsider how well the typical 9-to-5 workday is serving current workers’ needs. A truly innovative workplace culture should give employees the flexibility they need to succeed.
Business Benefits of Flexible Work Hours
It’s not surprising that employees today are demanding more flexible work hours. In fact, some of the most highly skilled talent is choosing to work independently. It's estimated that by 2020, 60 million Americans will be independent workers — freelancers, contractors and consultants.
What is surprising, however, is that so few employers choose to offer a flexible work schedule for employees. Many companies worry that work-hour flexibility will cut into their profits. However, just the opposite appears to be true. Three key benefits of flexible work hours include:
1. Cost Savings
Imagine the benefits if you designated just one day each week as work-from-home day. You would save money on utilities, as well as on smaller items such as coffee, snacks, paper towels and hand soap. Employees also save money on things like gas, public transportation or going out to lunch. Plus, with advanced workplace technology, employees can easily check-in with each other from home via email, text and instant messaging for little to no additional cost. As long as the work still gets done, these cost-saving measures seem well worth the change.
2. Boost in Morale
Beyond simple cost savings, the boost to morale employees experience when they get time away from the office can be an even greater benefit for businesses. When people get a chance to refresh, spend more time with family, rest and sleep, they feel much better about their work lives. Taking a break from the office means employees will actually look forward to coming into work.
3. Increased Creativity and Productivity
Happy people are less stressed. People who are less stressed are more creative. Offering employees the space to design their own work schedules, especially for more creative types, can really boost productivity. When you stop and think about it, 40 hours provides space for a lot, if it’s allocated properly. But working 40 hours doesn’t have to mean working 9am–5pm, Monday–Friday.
A big reason for the increase in productive output is that employees with alternative work arrangements tend to devote less time and energy to typical office routines. A flexible work environment means employees can focus more time on mission-critical tasks when they sit down at their desks. Extremely capable workers can do more with less time too.
Offering a more flexible schedule gives you a leg up over the competition — a key recruiting technique and shapes a culture that is willing to view the workforce as a blend between in-house, remote and outsourced. Instituting a flexible work schedule is as much about empowering employees to exert control over where and when they work, as they are about the flexibility itself. That’s what really has the biggest impact on productivity and staff wellbeing.
Flexible Cultures Enable Blended Workforces
Reportedly, more than 20 million people in the U.S. are actively seeking out part-time and contract work. Those who are looking for more of a work-life balance are attracted to on-demand work. It gives them the opportunity to pursue other interests, design their own careers and juggle family obligations. This means that some of the best job candidates see a flexible work schedule as a valuable benefit.
It’s becoming extremely important to create an environment that is open to flexible work styles for full-time employees and invites employees to look outside the walls of their organization to find on-demand talent to tackle critical business needs. A quote that emerged out of a recent Catalant thought leadership forum summarizes what the future of a flexible workforce could look like: “In the workplace of the future, there will be little difference between “us” in-house employees and "them,” independent experts. We will both be working together to solve business problems through collective intellect.”
Be Flexible About Flexibility
In a recent article entitled, “Traditional Work Isn’t Working: It’s Time for the 9 to 5 to Retire," author Diane Mulcahy writes, “If managers are not managing by results or outcomes, they're not managing, they're babysitting.”
Managers should create a results-focused performance evaluation by allowing employees to work whenever and wherever they want, as long as they meet clearly stated metrics for financial performance and client service. With no hard limit on personal time off, this policy is especially attractive for new parents and people who want to cut back hours but continue pursuing their professional careers.
While it takes some effort to get flexibility right, keeping the above reasons and policies in mind can help take away a lot of the guesswork. If you’ve been considering a more flexible work policy for your organization, there’s no time like the present to give it a shot.
At Catalant, we believe that through managing by results and hybrid workforces, flexibility is the way of the future. Take a look at our interactive experiences to learn more about the on-demand experts powering today’s flexible workforce.