The concept of flexible work is akin to a bridge attempting to span the gap between the needs of an organization with the needs of the individuals counted on to make that organization operate effectively. And while many see the implementation of flexible policies and strategies as an obvious strategy to address the needs of both the workplace and the workforce, it’s important to note that many employers and employees still have challenges that need to be addressed to successfully implement these flexible work options.
Let’s face it, the idea of flexible working – be it telecommuting, part-time work, or work that allows for flexible hours, has gained significant momentum over the past few years. This can be attributed in large part to organizations and movements that have advocated for these policies to become more widespread. Of course, however, the emergence from the Great Recession has also helped. Faced with more jobs on the market, job-seekers have become more selective, and are very cognizant about what they are really looking for in a job and an employer. In fact, one study recently revealed that when looking for a job, Millennials, more than any other generation, prefer flexible working options. Organizations are now competing for talent, when just a few short years ago the talent competing for them!
So if flexible working can not only increase employee morale by offering the work-life balance individuals across all generations seek, and if it can serve as a tantalizing sign of your workplace culture to prospective employees, then why aren’t we seeing all organizations implementing flexible work policies?
While many organizations have been able to successfully integrate flex work into their workplace strategy, far too many still have not. Some of the challenges faced are organization specific, but many are common hurdles seen across all industries. For example, another study conducted by World At Work and FlexJobs discovered 80% of the companies reviewed by these organizations already have some type of flexible work policy in place. Common problems, however, include employees not being made aware of these policies, and/or policies not being consistently enforced. If managers show unjust favoritism to a certain employee or employees, for instance, your flexible work strategy will be viewed as half-hearted by employees. An unevenly-applied policy can be worse than no policy at all!
Additionally, other managers insist their staff is incapable of working off-site due to their particular job roles or responsibilities. Often times, more truthfully, it is the manager’s own lack of skills and abilities to lead individuals he or she cannot see that is the real cause of this hesitation! Another hurdle is that many employees, even if they are aware of their flexible options, dare not participate out of fear of being mislabeled a slacker by their supervisor or peers. “There is a perception that time spent in the office correlates with dependability and responsibility,”–a great quote in a recent Bloomberg article on the subject.
The good news for flexible work proponents is that research continues to support the notion that flex workers are just as productive as employees that are based full time on-site. Additionally, studies have shown that when workers have a say in their schedules, it can result in “lower levels of stress, psychological distress, burnout, and higher job satisfaction.”
Having your employees take our FlexMatch™ Suitability Assessment is a great first step for employers seeking to set up a top notch flex work program. How can FlexMatch™ help? First, an assessment can truly identify which workers are best prepared to work full-time, or part-time, remotely. Not all job roles are ideal for flex work, and our assessments will help identify those in your organization. Our assessments, however, go even deeper. Social needs and personal competencies of participants are measured as well. Once completed, our proprietary reports will provide recommendations as to the number of days each candidate is suited for off-site work.
Next, managers that participate will have their readiness to lead off-site workers rated on our manager scorecards. These leaders will have the ability in their free text responses to describe what they need to be better prepared to lead flexible workers. FlexMatch™ gives all employees and managers a fair and equitable opportunity to become an employee capable of conducting business from outside the office.
Despite the potential challenges, organizations that are willing to properly analyze and prepare for a flexible work initiative can achieve a win-win scenario for their workplace and workforce. The end result will be a productive organization providing the flexibility and work life balance necessary to attract and retain the talent needed for prolonged success.