According to Owl Labs, 24% of remote workers are happier and more productive. Why?… Flexibility.
When you work remotely, you’re awarded freedoms you’ve never had in a co-located job. Those newfound freedoms from flexible work arrangements can lead you to be a stronger worker and a better employee, while HR is left to ponder the meaning of absenteeism in this new work environment.
What are Flexible Work Arrangements?
Flexible work arrangements are alternative approaches to getting your work done through changes in location, work schedules and job structures from the traditional 9-5 office work. These new flexible work arrangements often include hybrid, partial or fully remote work.
What are The Benefits of Flexible Work Arrangements?
It’s surprising how much time in a co-located space you waste. Unwanted chit-chatting, mind-wandering, and long commutes, represent only a few consequential work detractors. And they add up fast!
Onsite, face-to-face work can be great, but it does have drawbacks. Don’t like the height of your desk? Don’t like who you sit next to? Don’t like the office noise? The list of little things that can bother you, and distract you, at work is plentiful. And, after awhile, some of those “little” annoyances stop seeming so little.
With in-person work, you’re more or less stuck with an assigned office space. With remote work, however, you’re free to work from the local coffee shop, your sofa, and anywhere in between. Some people work better when sitting straight up, other’s like to clear the distraction of discomfort so they can focus on the work. It’s all about choosing what works best for you, leaving you able to work hard, free from what you might consider a workplace distraction, even if your coworker doesn’t. Some employees need absolute comfort and silence, while other employees prefer to work on a park bench.
Distractions aside, having the workplace flexibility to work anywhere lets you get more out of every day. This doesn’t just mean greater productivity, it also means employees still get to take care of their personal lives and personal needs. You won’t have to miss a sibling's graduation, or a friend's important game just because it’s on the other side of town from a traditional office. Nothing is “too far” anymore; you and your workflow have the option to adjust to working anywhere.
As an added bonus, you often can get by with saving on childcare, commuting costs (and time), and all of the other small expenses and inconveniences of working in a physical office environment. You can even save on real estate costs and rental prices by not needing to buy/rent so close to the office.
Check out the cost savings advantages from building a remote team.
Employee retention is both the intended and natural result from improvements in work-life balance and job satisfaction that remote work and flexible work offers.
In Zenefits 2020 Flexible Work Report, 70% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that flexible work was as important to them as pay and health benefits.
In the same study, however, the study also signals a concern for companies that are not moving fast enough to offer remote work or flexible work. 77% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that Flexible Work Arrangements will be a major consideration when evaluating future job opportunities.
What are 3 ways in which work is more flexible?
What are these ‘magical’ freedoms that drive you to work harder and to be a better employee? Well, you get more control over…
- Where you work
- When you work
- How you work
It’s surprising how much time in a co-located space you waste. Chit-chatting, mind-wandering, are commuting, represent only a few consequential work detractors. These detractors might seem small, but they add up.
Choosing Where You Work
Studies suggest that 1/2 of the US workforce is telecommuting permanently or partially. As the pandemic settles down, there are options to choose where you want to spend your work time. Here are the top type remote options.
Schedule your meetings anywhere, because anywhere is your new workspace. According to Owl Labs, increased focus and productivity are the top two reasons to work from home. Imagine being able to maximize focus and productivity every single day. That’s working remotely with flexibility.
If the organization is not prepared to offer fully remote work. This is often the case within teams that depend on collaboration with tangible goods such as luxury goods and apparel. There is a complexity in organization that isn't present within fully remote organizations, which is mitigated by technology and an iterative policy.
Choosing When You Work
Earlier I mentioned that as a remote worker you wouldn’t have to, "miss a sibling's graduation, a friend's important game, or anything"... but what if it took place in the middle of the day? If flexibility doesn’t extend to your working time, it might not matter where you work, you could still be forced to miss out on not only important events but also a true work-life balance advertised with telecommuting.
Flexible Work Schedules
On your typical remote team, members' locations vary. When their locations vary, their time zones do as well (sometimes). That being the case, the traditional 9–5 workday isn’t as common, and you’re relegated to a more lax schedule. Work the core hours required, whatever they may be, get your work done, but don’t worry about the when as much. Remote culture can be much more forgiving.
I’m hardly suggesting you take entire days off, but don’t feel bad if you have to "drive to New York to stay with family" and miss out on a couple of hours in the middle of the day. It’s expected, and you can work late to make up for the drive-time.
Some companies with flexible work options don’t focus on hours at all. These organization's flexible work policy is not based on flexible work hours, but on results. As the work models based on traditional workdays falls away, full time employees, like some part-time jobs and freelancers, have the freedom to work whenever they’re most primed to get the job done.
Compressed Work Weeks
This has been years in the making and accelerated by a pandemic, but has Tim Ferris's vision of the Four Hour Work Week becoming the new reality?
With remote work and flexible schedules, the compressed work week is now available. Employers like Duke University are now offer to condense an employee's 35-40 work week into less than 5 days, with their supervisor's consent, of course. This way they can get all of their work done and attend to their personal or family needs.
Implementing these strategies can be difficult for some businesses who rely on real-time collaboration. In order to address these difficulties, some businesses, as mentioned, are turning to flextime, wherein employees work within a set of standard hours, but they have individual freedom to decide which of those hours are best for them. While this method won’t necessarily grant you all of the benefits of flexible work arrangements, it can be a good option if you prefer a bit of structure. After all, that’s what the flexible work environment is all about. It’s about what works for you.
Choosing How You Work
With a well-realized flexible work culture, you’ll be free to build a workspace, a daily routine and personal workflow that best suits you.
The Flexible Work Environment
If you want to build a desk set up that pushes you to work harder every day — you can. If you want to keep your office small enough to toss into your backpack — you can. If you want to keep track of projects on a giant wall of sticky notes, go for it. Say goodbye to micromanagement and hello to boosted employee engagement, and better work-life balance.
The freedom allowed by being able to roll out of bed, right into the workflow you’ve built is incredible. No more suit, no more tie, unless that’s your style! Prefer to ink things out with a pen before drafting a doc? Go for it. Want to take a lesson from the millennials and do all of your email on your phone? Now you can!
Remote workers with flexible work arrangements don’t have to have every step of the process dictated to them. If you value flexibility (and who doesn’t?), don’t settle for the rigid and outmoded work styles of the past.
For more benefits on how to build out a flexible work environment, check out Deloitte's deck on Remote Collaboration Facing the challenges of COVID-19.
But in the end
Get your work done, and that’s what matters most. For some, working remotely can start off as a vacation from the normal demands of office life. Over time you’ll adjust to the newfound freedom you have, but work completion is key to that formula. The good news for employers? Results are what really matter! Even in a traditional working environment, occupying a seat in front of your desk for eight hours isn’t a measure of success. Now that you can work where, when, and how you want, it’s all about the results.