Flexible workplaces are becoming increasingly sought-after, especially for employees who are busy at work and after-hours. Unknown to many companies is the fact a flexible workplace benefits both the company and its employees, making everyone happy. It is ultimately in everyone’s best interest to offer flexible workspaces.
Ever thought that flexibility is much too hard? You might be surprised to learn you can transform your team into an even greater place to work without needing to move heaven and earth. Luckily for you, there are many easy ways to offer flexible work to your employees.
- Altered start and finish times
Altering the hours of work is one of the major ways to offer flexibility and for most businesses it is not that hard to do. With time spent on the road on the rise in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, employees would give anything to miss the most hectic hours of peak traffic. Starting work later or finishing earlier can be an easy and effective way to introduce flexible work; for the most part staff will still overlap with their peers in the same office at the same time.
Flexitime is approved overtime hours that are compensated by time off. In a time where over one-in-three employees would change employers if it meant being offered more workplace flexibility, offering an option as simple and easy to implement as flexitime is a great way to keep employees happy and retention rates high. Many workers are keen to have some ‘buffer’ in their work hours so that when a personal matter arises they can attend to it. Sometimes even this small amount of flexibility will give back enough control that an employee can achieve work-life balance.
- Flexible seating
Often referred to as hotel-style seating, this easy way to offer flexible workplaces is worth looking into. Employees sign up for or reserve desks as needed, rather than having the same desk day in and day out. Giving employees the freedom of coming and going in different areas of the building, even using cafes and libraries as they choose, can be appealing to employees if they value variety and the opportunity to meet colleagues from other work areas.
Flexible seating can be great way to boost performance and enhance collaboration in the workplace. For example, on Monday Susie may only need to use a desk for a few hours, but the very next day she plans to be working with a task group towards developing a new program, and they’ll need a meeting room. She can reserve the spaces she needs according to her work schedule, while the company can save on space and time. Meanwhile, Susie is more likely to meet other employees and build connections across the company as she uses the flexible workspaces.
To tap into hotelling as a low-cost way to introduce some flexibility, companies need to design a few spaces meant for team meetings, together with some spaces meant for quiet, individual work.
- Collaborative workspaces & coworking centres
Collaborative workspaces complement flexible seating, but they focus on facilitating collaboration by creating a comfortable environment for sharing ideas and resources. Collaborative workspaces address the needs and potential of today’s workers in a variety of ways. Gen Y employees tend to look for work environments that are an extension of the flexible workstyle they experienced at college or university.
One of the latest ways to offer flexible workplaces is through coworking centres or ‘hubs’, where employees work alongside employees from other businesses. These hubs are designed for companies and sole traders to use as needed, so that employees have the option to work from home, in the main office, or alongside other professionals in a trendy, comfy office space. Coworking hubs are on the rise in Australia, no doubt in part because employees love the combination of a great working environment with a larger social network. They are also an inexpensive option for accommodating staff off-site.
- The ‘anytime work schedule’
Working 24 hours per day is definitely not what employees have in mind when they hear about flexible work hours. However, in terms of what teams can offer their employees, the ‘anytime work schedule’ should be a potential option. Research shows 89% of millennial workers would prefer to work when and where they want, rather than spending their time in the corporate 9-5 grind. You can capitalise on this preference by offering employees the option to determine when they will work through an extended workday. You may want to allocate a timeframe during the day when your staff will be available ‘no matter what’, with flexible hours beyond this.
With these options up your sleeve it is easy to see why creating a flexible workplace doesn’t have to be hard. Certainly, the harder options tend to be the ones that are more attractive to employees, such as telecommuting, job-sharing and compressed work weeks, to name a few.
If you’re looking for somewhere to start and you don’t need to make massive cost savings or productivity gains (which are possible with the other options), these five options are great ways to test the water.