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How to Establish a Flexible Workplace Culture

The days of clocking in, clocking out, and working in a cubicle for eight hours straight with two 15-minute breaks and some time for lunch are over. Today’s workers are demanding more flexible schedules and experiences. Businesses that oblige will gain access to better talent.

The Importance of Flexibility in the Workplace

Think back to all of the different companies you’ve worked for in your life. How many of them were rigid and unrelenting? How many of them forced you to come in early, leave late, and account for every second in between? “Most” or “all of them” are generally the answers most people give to these questions. But over the past few years, there’s been a shift in the way employers and employees interact. While they’ve been slow to come to the conclusion, even the most established corporations have realized that these kinds of work cultures do nothing but breed mediocrity and frustration.

With startups and small businesses leading the way, the corporate world is starting to wake up to the idea that flexibility provides a competitive advantage on multiple fronts. Advantages include:

  • Better buy-in. When you’re flexible with an employee, it builds trust. And when there’s trust, the employee is more likely to buy into the company’s mission and purpose. This leads to better engagement and loyalty throughout the workforce. 
  • Lowers burnout. Employees who work rigid schedules are much more likely to fall victim to burnout. By introducing flexible choices, you give employees some feeling of control over their daily experience. This makes them more likely to lean in and engage.
  • Optimizes productivity. When employees feel valued and are allowed to optimize their schedules to their strengths, it ultimately leads to better output and productivity. 
  • Improves talent management. It’s a lot easier to attract and retain talent when you’re flexible with your employees. Even today, in the push for greater flexibility across the entire corporate landscape, only a percentage of companies do it well. This can give you a distinct advantage.

3 Tips for Making Your Workplace More Flexible

Understanding the need for flexibility is one thing. But actually establishing a culture that prioritizes flexibility is much more challenging. With that being said, here are several suggestions:

  • Encourage Flex Scheduling

Every person is unique and has a different internal time clock. Some people are super productive early in the morning, while other people don’t hit their stride until the afternoon or evening. Rather than trying to fit everyone into the same 9-to-5 “box,” encourage your employees to set their own hours (within reason). 

For example, one employee might do really well working Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., while another employee is more productive working 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Then there might be people who prefer to work longer hours and squeeze all of their work into a four-day workweek. By encouraging flexible scheduling, you actually maximize talent, creativity, and productivity. 

  • Embrace Remote Tech

A big part of being flexible in today’s environment is being able to work remotely. Anything you can do to decrease location dependence will give your business a boost. The easiest way to do this is by embracing remote technologies that make it possible for employees to do their jobs regardless of where they are.

Take accounting software, for example. Having the right cloud accounting software in place makes it possible to run your business whether you’re in the office, at home, or in an airport 3,000 miles from home. 

  • Eliminate Distractions

In addition to embracing new rules and processes that prioritize choice, you also need to think about the various factors that are holding you back. In other words, what distractions are preventing flexibility in your workplace culture?

Excessive meetings are a great example. If employees are required to attend 10 or 15 meetings every single week, it’s difficult for them to be as flexible or productive as they need to be. Their schedules are essentially held hostage. By reducing the number of meetings, you can free up availability so that employees can attend to the tasks on their to-do lists.

Putting it All Together

As a business owner or manager, it can be difficult to give up some of the control that you’ve traditionally had. But if you want to keep employees happy, engaged, and productive, you have no choice but to loosen the reins a bit. Flexibility is the order of the day, and it’s the businesses that respect this cultural shift that will remain competitive for years to come.