Flexibility is one of the most sought after benefits in the modern workplace. Employees want more control of their hours and the ability to work remotely among other perks. For employers, offering these benefits has become one way to attract and retain top talent. But just how important is flexibility to the employers, employees, and the company culture? More importantly, should workplaces put a limit on the kind of flexibility they allow?

What it Means to Be Flexible

Flexibility is not just about working irregular hours or telecommuting. But what it means depends on who you ask. Flexible employees are those who are willing to adapt to changes. For instance, according to a survey on 1,000 US employees, 72% wished their employers gave them more responsibilities. It’s actually the employers who fail to take advantage of this opportunity by not giving their employees the chance to shine in other tasks. Nonetheless, this willingness to do something outside of one’s job description is a good indicator of flexibility and a valuable trait. Flexibility can also mean adjusting the hours one works, accommodating the company’s needs, and being open to learn new skills.

The same goes for employers. They must demonstrate the ability to go above and beyond their roles for the good of the company. One example of that, as pointed out in a recent Duuzra article, is transitioning to virtual events in place of in-person meetings. But other than demonstrating adaptability during challenging times, employers need to make room for their workers’ individual needs and preferences. For instance, knowing when to give acknowledgement to those who respond to that kind of leadership, or when to let other employees do their thing.

As we’ve mentioned, flexibility can also pertain to work arrangements, not just a trait. There are varying types and levels of flexibility but they most often involve flexible work hours — or flexitime — and telecommuting practices. The compressed workweek is an idea suggested by Amy Quarton, an associate instructor for Maryville University’s online organizational leadership degree. Instead of working the usual five days a week, some businesses have been experimenting with a four-day workweek and the results are promising. Quarton highlighted that its key advantages include a reduction in employee sick time, overtime and personal leave time. Provided that a compressed workweek is actually what the employees want, it could improve their physical and mental wellbeing, which could impact the company’s bottomline. Employees who get a better work-life balance are more likely to be engaged and productive at work, which could push output higher than ever.

When Flexibility is Not Beneficial

When flexibility is a compromise between two parties, namely employers and employees, it could produce great results. Employees will feel that their needs are being met and become more satisfied with their current job. This can reduce the overall employee turnover rate and eliminate the costs of hiring and training new people. Furthermore, business expert Scott Mautz states that it saves on overhead expenses such as office space. In fact, businesses saved over $5 billion in 2018 by letting people work remotely. But more importantly, they’re more likely to work harder for the company and see to it that the goals are being met.

However, flexibility shouldn’t be exploited. Employees could be willing to sacrifice one or two weekends to complete a project but it’s not fair or healthy to make that a habit. They will lose their sense of work-life balance and feel dissatisfied in their jobs, which could become very costly for employers down the line. At the same time, employees shouldn’t abuse the flexibility perks they enjoy. Missing in-person meetings or not making an effort to collaborate with others are a sign that there needs to be more structure in place. If employees are working remotely full-time, intentional efforts such as scheduled virtual meetings and regular check-ins could help avoid a future problem.

Article written solely by Olivia Payne for duuzra.com