Workplace Flexibility For Employers and Employees

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 8 October 2022

Published 27 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Flexible workplaces are becoming more common as employees and employers recognise the benefits associated with non-traditional environments. Work-life balance has become a large factor for people who are deciding where to work. If you're interested in creating a workplace that's desirable to top talent, consider being flexible at the workplace. In this article, we discuss what workplace flexibility is for employees and employers, as well as the benefits of both.

What is workplace flexibility?

Workplace flexibility is when a workplace emphasises their employees completing their tasks and managing their workload effectively regardless of where and when they work. This has led to a decrease in traditional workplaces like office spaces and the increase of new workplace styles. Many employees are interested in flexible opportunities because it can result in a better work-life balance, and it can allow them to make their own schedule.

Flexibility can manifest in different ways, but both the employer and the employee can practise flexibility at work to create a productive environment.

Related: Preparing For The Future Of Work

Employee flexibility

Employee flexibility focuses on the adaptability of the employee to work in different departments, on different projects or at different companies. This can mean that they work for themselves, or companies can contract them for their specific skills. They may be full-time employees who have cross-trained in a variety of skills and so can adapt quickly to different positions within a company. The ability to do more than what's simply in their job description sets a flexible employee apart from the team. Some examples of employee flexibility include:

  • Ability to switch from one task to another when priorities change

  • Offering to perform a different role to compensate for a sick or absent coworker

  • Adapting to scheduling changes

Related: Tips for Graduates Entering the Workforce During COVID-19

Employer flexibility

Employer flexibility focuses on what the employer can do to provide a range of options that can appeal to a variety of needs and work styles. These flexible options may require more paperwork or monitoring by the management team, but they can also increase creativity, innovation and job satisfaction. Therefore, non-traditional work hours and workspaces have grown in popularity. Here are some common initiatives that employers have included to improve their flexible practices at work:

Flexible hours

Flexible hours are the most common type of work flexibility. With flexible hours, employees can create their own schedule or choose from a selection of shifts to work hours that optimise their focus and creativity. As long as they complete their work at the same satisfactory quality, the employer does not dictate their work hours.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Working From Home

Condensed schedules

Some companies have tried condensing their schedules so that instead of the traditional five-day week, their employees work longer hours for fewer days during the week. This can intrigue employees because they might get larger blocks of time off during the week. Employees can choose to place their extra time in the middle of the work week, or they can incorporate it into the beginning or end of the weekend, so they have three days off before beginning the next week. This tactic provides more free time for employees to schedule and enjoy.

Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care While Working from Home

Remote work

Remote work, or telecommuting, is one of the most common types of employer flexibility. It can be convenient for both employers and employees because employers may not have to pay for office space, and employees can choose to work from any location. As most projects and office tools move online, it has become very easy to conduct most work online, including meetings, schedules and project management tools.

Read more:

  • Q&A: What Is Remote Work?

  • Q&A: What is Telecommuting?

Freelancing

Freelancing is when a professional works for themselves by selling their services to clients directly. They typically quote a rate for their services. Businesses can hire freelancers for one-time tasks that aren't worth hiring a full-time employee, like building a website or renovating a space. Working as a freelancer allows you to customise your workload to your preference, including what you charge, what projects you work on and how many projects you can take on at one time.

Read more: How To Get a Gig Job

Unlimited paid time off

Unlimited paid time off is a benefit that some companies offer where they don't track their employees' number of days off. Most companies may provide a certain number of days that employees can use to call out of work. The idea of unlimited paid time off is that as long as employees are completing their work and satisfying the quality standard, they can take as much time off as they want. This can be easier for HR to track, and it can be very appealing to employees.

Benefits of flexibility at the workplace for employees

Here are some benefits of flexibility at work:

Better work-life balance

More people are seeking a strong work-life balance in their work. If your employer has instituted policies that promote working flexibly, you can use many of the policies to create a work environment where you can complete your responsibilities without sacrificing the comfort or convenience that a traditional office job or long commute would provide. If you work for yourself or are a contractor, you can also have the freedom to make your own schedule, contributing to your ability to choose how to balance work and life.

Read more: Tips for Better Work-Life Balance

Greater autonomy

Some employees work best in an environment where they have more autonomy and less supervision. These employees can thrive in flexible workplaces because they can choose the parameters of their work and their projects. Working remotely or from multiple locations means their bosses trust them to complete their work without close supervision.

Related: What Are the Pros and Cons of Working at a Startup Company?

Less stress

Employees who have more control over their time and feel like their company trusts them can experience less stress. They can avoid situations like traffic, commuting or long periods of time spent away from family or without days off. Giving the employee more control of the schedule means that they can structure work time around their personal needs and work styles, leading them to be more productive. Less stress may also increase their health and happiness, which can increase their job satisfaction.

Related: Guide To the Main Pros and Cons of Working From Home

Benefits of workplace flexibility for employers

Employers also have a lot to gain from incorporating flexibility into their workplaces. Here are some benefits:

Motivated employees

Investing in a workplace culture that serves the needs and preferences of your employees centres their job satisfaction in your culture and can reduce your turnover rate. Employees who feel valued, motivated and energised can be more likely to stay in the same position. A lower turnover rate is good for employers because it helps them save time and cost of recruiting and training.

Improved productivity and creativity

When employees feel safe and comfortable in their position, employees can reduce burnout, which maintains productivity levels. Workplaces that establish trust with their employees also create spaces where employees feel able to try new things, activating their creativity. These positive environments can lead to innovations and growth for employees that can propel the company forward as well.

Loyalty

Employees who feel that their company aligns with their priorities and lifestyle are more likely to stay in their position. Providing the ability to personalise your schedule, or providing the freedom to work on different projects and develop new skills can keep your employees engaged with their work. This can then increase their job satisfaction, decreasing the likelihood that they may look elsewhere for work.

Improved customer service experience

Employees who are content at work are more likely to have positive interactions with customers, simply because they are in better moods and more engaged with their work. Positive interactions with customers can translate into more sales or higher client retention. Providing a wider range of hours for your employees to work also means that there's a wider range of hours that clients can reach their customer service representatives, which can contribute to a better customer experience.

Attractiveness to top talent

Organisations that offer such flexibility can be more attractive to people looking for new jobs. If a company has a positive reputation for providing a flexible workplace, more competitive candidates may be interested in applying for open positions or participating in an internship. This can help companies attract, train and retain strong employees, aiding in their growth and success.

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