The strict nine-to-five workday is out and a flexible workday is in. And companies lacking flexibility will find themselves lacking talent too.
Over the past four years there has been a 24% increase in the number of people who say flexible work arrangements are a very important factor when considering a new job, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report, which surveyed 5,000 talent acquisition and HR professionals around the world.
In addition, a third (31%) of LinkedIn users say flexible work arrangements are a very important consideration when choosing a job. That’s a third of candidates who might turn down an offer if your company doesn’t offer flexibility.
“Work flexibility is becoming the norm. The challenge is how fast can organizations provide it. Those that can are going to be in a far better position to retain top talent over the next three to five years,” says Jason Phillips who is the VP Digital HR & Global Chief of Staff at Cisco.
Thankfully, what flexibility looks like for your company can be, well, flexible.
What flexible arrangements look like and how they vary from company to company, continue to evolve. Below are examples of what some companies are doing to promote flexibility in the workplace.
- Remote Working
Who’s using it: The State of Utah, Women’s Leadership Institute, Western Governors University, SkyWest, JetBlue, FormAssembly, Sqwiggle, HelpScout
With amazing technology available, the ability to work remotely is on the rise. Many companies can support their employees working from anywhere, anytime.
But even how your company allows remote working can be flexible.
Your company could offer “totally remote” options which means allowing employees to work from anywhere, anytime. Or you could offer “location variety” which means an employee is based out of a company office, but can work at a location of their choosing some of the time.
- Flexible Schedules or Freedom Schedules
Who’s using it: Women’s Leadership Institute
Flexing working hours can enable an employee to adjust the time she starts work and the time she finishes. It could also include unconventional hours or shifting the workday to optimize productivity and performance, such as avoiding rush hour commutes. This freedom allows employees the ability to step away from work to accommodate the unexpected or nontraditional.
- Unlimited PTO
Who’s using it: Workfront, Mammoth HQ, LinkedIn, FullContact, Netflix, Evernote
Many companies are implementing an unlimited or “take what you need” policy regarding vacation. Although it may sound ripe for misuse at first glance, this policy can fit well in an organization that operates on mutual respect and trust.
This can possibly work in companies where employees have feast-or-famine workloads, productivity is easily measured, and where the culture is one of high trust between employees and manager. It probably doesn’t work for hourly employees, work where a set number of employees are needed on the job, and where the culture is intense and employees feel like they always need to be working.
- Job Sharing
Who’s using it: U.S. federal government, Qualcomm
Job-sharing programs are one of the most common ways for specialized professionals to create the time needed to care for their personal needs in addition to performing excellent work. A job-share team is formed by two professionals who form a partnership to perform one job. An example workweek might involve Teammate A working Monday to Wednesday and Teammate B working Wednesday to Friday at the same position, with some handoff and complementary responsibilities on the overlap day.
Who’s using it: Raytheon, an innovator in defense and cybersecurity solutions
Allows employees to work nine-hour days and get every other Friday off. This way, they can “take care of personal business, see family, travel, take a dance class, and have a life outside of work.”
- Work Online Wednesdays
Who’s using it: Upwork, the largest online freelance marketplace
Upwork has flexibility built into the core of its own business. Every Wednesday, employees can work wherever they want as long as there’s Wi-Fi. They can work from home on other days as well if necessary, but making Wednesday an intentional day to work remote allows employees the flexibility to plan for life outside of the office.
And although 36% of women and 29% of men say flexibility really matters when they make job decisions, fears about communication, productivity, and lack of oversight hold many companies back from fully embracing these desirable policies.
The LinkedIn report points out, “some jobs are impossible to do remotely or outside of regular hours. A factory worker or surgeon, for example, can’t easily work from home or change their schedule at will—but a software engineer can. So it’s no surprise the industry with the most flexible working conditions is tech, while the least flexible are manufacturing and healthcare. Just 43% of talent professionals in manufacturing and healthcare say their companies allow remote work at least some of the time, compared to 72% of those in the software industry.”
If your company is in an industry with flexible work options, with willingness and proactive effort, it is possible to overcome company hurdles. And in addition to attracting new talent, research shows adopting flexible working arrangements assist in the retention rates of women, reduce workplace stress, and boost productivity.
When the State of Utah started a pilot project implementing teleworking in some departments, it found productivity went up by more than 20% among the 136 employees who participated in the program.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who has served on the WLI Advisory Board since 2015, told The Salt Lake Tribune, “When we talk about why productivity goes up, I think a huge part of that is because those hourlong commutes are soul-sucking,” Cox said. “So you just feel better about life when you don’t have to do that every day.”
Does your company offer one of these suggested flexibility options?
Or do they offer something else?
Leave a comment below and we’ll include your company’s name in the blog post.
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