If your company is suffering from employee fatigue or high staff turnover, flexible work arrangements (FWAs) could be the answer to your problems. An increasing number of studies are showing that the concept is not only highly efficacious for keeping valued individuals, it’s also great for attracting fresh talent. Even back in 2019, a survey by Flexjobs found as much as 52% of workers were already trying to negotiate the issue with their managers.
Following the growth in flexible work arrangements COVID necessitated, that figure has only blossomed, with more and more people desiring some form of hybrid or remote working system. So, what are the different options you could offer in your company?
1 What Are Flexible Work Arrangements?
There are several types of flexible work arrangement examples, including flex time, job sharing and remote work. What unites them all is that they provide staff with greater control over their work day. As a result, they can better manage childcare or other family commitments, as well as adjust their hours to better suit their unique energy cycle. Flexible work arrangements can also facilitate a better work-life balance, which entails a number of benefits for the individual and the company.
2. Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements
2.1 Reduces Employee Attrition
Cutting down staff churn is a priority for many companies. Flexible work arrangements can be an attractive incentive that increases loyalty and encourages staff to stay put. According to a research paper published in 2021 by the UK government, as much as 87% of people want to work flexibly, so it only makes sense to consider it as part of a recruitment package.
2.2 Increases Employee Engagement and Productivity
Engaged employees tend to be more productive, and offering remote working is a proven way to increase engagement. Gallup found that the optimum engagement boost occurs when employees spend 3 to 4 days a week out of the office – a heartening statistic for those senior executives who worry that greater autonomy means reduced performance.
2.3 Improves Health and Well-being
When staff have more control over their schedules, there is an associated boost in overall health. This can range from being more physically fit due to having more time for exercising the body, to showing improved mental health. One study into the flexible work arrangements policy found significant decreases in occupational stress, as well as increases in team collaboration and satisfaction with the communication climate.
2.4 Decreases Office Space and Commute Costs
One of the top reasons for flexible work arrangements is that they decrease costs for both the company and its workers. The business can cut back on expensive office rentals and associated expenses for equipment, furniture, decorations and other necessary facilities. At the same time, staff don’t have to cough up for exorbitant public transport tickets or face up to stomach-churning petrol bills.
2.5 Provides Access to Top Talent from Multiple Locations
Flexible work arrangements’ benefits extend to broadening your recruitment opportunities. If you don’t require your staff to work regularly in the office, in the same city or even in the same country, you can tap into the national or global talent that would previously have been unattainable. Plus, it’s an easy way to massively increase the diversity of your team.
3. How Do You Implement Flexible Work Arrangements?
The most important step is to make sure you have the necessary technology in place to allow for FWAs. This could involve building remote access to a secure server, providing video communication tools like Microsoft Teams or setting everyone up on an instant messaging platforms like Slack. Once you’ve done that, you can begin running training sessions for people that want to take advantage of office programs like remote working or job sharing, so that your staff are properly equipped to move to a new way of working and know what’s expected of them. This includes providing guidance for managers on best practices for overseeing a flexible working team. You might want to start with a pilot program to test the efficacy of implementing flexible work arrangements for your team, as it’s not always useful or even appropriate for all industries or roles.
4. What Are Some of the Best Practices for Flexible Work Arrangements?
First and foremost, you should have clear policies in place before launching new flexible work arrangements, so that everyone knows what options are available to them and there is consistency across the board. Don’t forget to have a clear idea of what performance metrics you want to use to measure the efficacy of your changes, so that you have data to ensure you’re making the right decision for your company. This could include tracking productivity and employee churn rates, as well as monitoring satisfaction levels through staff surveys.
5. Types of Flexible Work Arrangements
5.1 Flex Time
Remember the adage about 9 to 5? Well, flex time is essentially the antidote to those uniform work hours. It keeps the total time per day pretty much the same but allows employees to start and finish according to their own schedules. For instance, an individual might decide to begin work at 7am but finish at 3pm, keeping their core hours the same.
5.2 Remote Work
Instead of requiring people to come into a physical office, remote work allows them to work from home. Popularized during Covid, it’s increasingly becoming the norm, with all sorts of businesses letting their employees perform their roles from the comfort of their own residences – or even from abroad – for at least part of the week.
5.3 Compressed Work Week
As with flex time, compressed work weeks keep the traditional working hours the same. Instead of splitting those hours differently across a single day, however, compressed work weeks allow employees to squeeze them down into fewer days. Usually, this translates into working four 10-hour days instead of five eight-hour days. While this does mean more intense activity from, say, Monday to Thursday, it also allows for the luxury of regular long weekends. Alternatively, people can opt to recuperate from their intense responsibilities by splitting the week in half and relaxing on Wednesdays.
5.4 Job Sharing
Rather than employing just one person to fulfill a complex or stressful role, why not have two? Job sharing typically involves a couple of different individuals covering the same position but dividing up the full-time hours between themselves. This might be a good option for someone who has caring obligations, is pursuing further education or where the role is particularly draining mentally or physically.
5.5 Split Shift
Imagine taking a lunch break for two or more hours. That is essentially what a split shift is: separating a day into smaller chunks that are bisected by a refreshing respite. Again, this mode of working allows for a person to tend to their personal responsibilities – for example, school pickup – for a few hours without disrupting their work responsibilities.
5.6 Paid Time Off and Leaves
Some companies offer staff the option to use their paid leave to work four-day weeks instead of five. This is particularly common when a person has saved up lots of time off in lieu or failed to utilize all their holiday entitlement. This approach makes more sense than rolling all paid leave over into the next year, which might cause severe inconvenience down the line.
5.7 Part-time Work
A more traditional form of flexible work arrangement, part-time work is simply when somebody works partial hours. For a business, this might be beneficial if there are some regular tasks that are too onerous to add to a full-time employee’s role but not substantial enough to hire a whole other person. For an individual, it might be attractive if they want to earn some money without dedicating as much time as a permanent position would require.
5.8 Annualized Hours
A combination of flex time and a compressed work week, annualized hours are also sometimes known as banking hours. Typically, someone working annualized hours will be contracted to work for a certain number of hours per year, rather than the traditional days-based arrangement. This concept can range from having a set schedule each day involving hours that are shorter than most professions (hence being called banking hours), or it can mean that the employee has complete autonomy in deciding when they work, as long as they meet their quota of hours by the end of the company year.
• How Does Flexible Working Affect Employees?
As with any office policy, what is the best flexible working arrangement for your company will be dependent on your industry and your staff. You can manage flexible work arrangements in HRM systems or have a more informal agreement in place. Either way, the numerous benefits associated with FWAs are continually being reaffirmed by studies and surveys. With an ever-growing number of businesses adopting some version of the idea, it’s becoming an essential attribute of any job offer package.