The demand for greater flexibility in the workplace is a growing trend. The idea that work has to be office based and between fixed hours is, if not quite ancient history, then well-past its sell-by date. A look at job posts on Linkedin shows that in the last two years mentions of flexibility have risen by 78 per cent. Add to that the fact that there has been a 24 per cent increase in people who say flexibility is important to their new job and you start to see a very clear trend
In fact, we’d call this shift to greater flexibility a ‘transformational trend’. Our Global Talent Trends Survey for 2018 confirms this, with 72 per cent of talent professionals ranking workplace flexibility as the second most important trend in HR and hiring today, just behind just behind soft skills at 91 per cent.
The good news is that as well as being attractive to future employees, workplace flexibility is also good for business. Dell has saved $12 million a year through its flexibility programme which has reduced the amount of office space the business needs.
There are, however, some downsides. Creating a well-bonded team is trickier with flexible working, as is the natural collaboration you get from a team who regularly work side by side is more difficult to achieve. But modern communication tools such as instant messaging, audio and video conferencing can easily overcome these initial challenges.
So just how do you build a successful flexible workplace culture? Here are six simple steps to consider.
Know what sort of flexibility your employees want
Working from another location, being able to manage the working day to suit the other demands on their time, being able to come and go when they choose. These are all potentially part of flexible working. But make sure you understand just what your employees want and need from flexible working, and you’ll be better able to create a flexible future which really delivers for them and the business.
Partner with teams outside HR
Delivering workplace flexibility will require a strong alignment with your workplace and facilities team. So make sure your employees and the business has the technology and the resources they need to make flexibility work for you, and ensure that their performance remains consistent.
Help your employees connect
Technology can provide the tools to build teams and help employees work together more effectively. Remote working can have its downsides, not least being away from others and the stimulation this can bring. But the technology can create a virtual ‘water cooler’, linking people back together just as if they were right there in the office.
Talk up your flexible policies
Are your employees clear about your own flexible policies? How can they find out about them? Be clear and upfront in job descriptions, interviews and employee meetings about just what your policies are and be prepared to clear up any misunderstandings.
Train your leaders to manage flexibly
Flexible working presents challenges for line managers. It’s not just about technology, it’s also about culture. So make certain your managers have both the technology and the cultural skills to make sure flexible workers stay focused.
Be flexible about flexibility
Practise what you preach. What today is seen as new and original will be common practice tomorrow. So be prepared to keep up with the changing pace of flexible working, and review your policies on a regular basis to stay ahead of changing trends.
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To find out more about how organisations such as Dell, Sodexo and Appen are making workplace flexibility work for them, download our Global Talent Trends Survey 2019, and find out how being more flexible could benefit your business, too.