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Why is flexibility important in the workplace?

The term flexibility is becoming more apparent within the workplace, changing the norms of a traditional 9-to-5 office role. Our recruiters at Inverse Group have noticed an influx of questions about flexibility with new job seekers. This has led us to want to understand what is flexibility in the workplace and how can it impact both the organisation and workers?

What is flexibility in the workplace?

A flexible work arrangement as described by the Australian Government, “is an agreement between a workplace and an employee to change the standard working arrangement to better accommodate an employee’s commitments of work”. This can include reduced working hours, working remotely, job sharing, and flexitime.

Interestingly, flexibility was introduced in The Fair Work Act 2009 which allows employees to have the right to request flexible work. However, recently due to COVID-19, 65% of workers both female and male are more likely to be approved for flexible working arrangements.

What are the Benefits of flexibility?

1. Productivity

Several studies have identified that there are positive correlations between flexible working conditions and enhanced productivity.

A study on 16,000 employees at a Chinese travel agency that allowed their workers to work at home for nine months showed the following:

            • 13% increase in productivity and performance
            • 9.2% extra minutes per day
            • Fewer sick days

However not all employees experienced these positive effects. These employees that experienced negative effects returned to the office which helped their productivity return. This expresses how everyone’s needs are different and how what might work for one may not work for another.

2. Health and Wellbeing

The Health and wellbeing of employees have been an important topic recently within the workplace. Allowing employees to choose their working arrangements helps boost staff morale which helps increase their mental health status. For example, 65% of individuals that use flexitime have reported a higher life satisfaction compared to those who do not. Promoting flexible working such as flexitime can help reduce work stressors, fatigue, and burnout.

3. Staff Retention 

Employee retention is all about how a company can retain talented staff while reducing turnover rates. A way of controlling retention is allowing employees to have flexible working conditions, that are personalised to their individual needs. 76% of managers and 80% of employees have suggested that flexible working arrangements help with positive effects on retention.

4. Reduced Costs

Allowing employees to work from home can help reduce direct costs to an organisation. These include desk space, internet, and general expenses. Companies are introducing hot-desking, where desks are used by different people at different times. This helps maximise space while reducing redundant office space.

5. Increased diversity

Flexibility is favoured more by females at 80% compared to men at 52%. Since COVID-19 there has been a shift in remote working, where flexibility has helped increase female workforce participation, helping create access to traditionally, male-dominated roles such as leadership. Additionally, 92% of millennials identify flexibility as a top priority when looking at new work. Including flexibility within a job will help attract millennials while also increasing access for females.

6. Candidate attraction 

Flexibility within a job can also attract new candidates. It shows future candidates that as an organisation you are versatile and are responsive to change.

How can an employer increase flexibility?

As an employer, there are multiple ways that you can include flexibility within your workplace such as flexible policies. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 4 out of 5 companies have introduced new flexible work policies or strategies. Before creating these policies or strategies it is important to consider the following: 

1. Trust your employees

Working from home can cause increased job stressors if the employee feels like they have to prove their right to work from home. Setting in stone from the start that you trust your employees will help minimise the possible negative effect of flexibility.

Lion, a beverage company located in Australia and New Zealand has just introduced a policy that allows its workers to work anywhere they would like for 30 days a year. This is an example of flexibility within a company that trusts its employers to still work while being anywhere in the world.

2. Understand your team’s needs

It is essential to understand that one employee’s needs may be completely different from another’s. Therefore,  it is important to make sure these needs are understood and accommodated accordingly to them.  

What do you think? 

As we can see there are many benefits to flexibility in the workplace, however, these benefits are determined by individual needs.

What are your thoughts on flexibility within the workplace? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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