According to a 2022 Return to the Workplace Report, 63 percent of surveyed professionals agree that a flexible work environment would help them feel more empowered in their roles. Not to mention, nearly 50 percent consider flexibility just as important as traditional benefits such as paid time off or a company-matched 401(k).
Employees value this perk so much, in fact, that over one-third will search for a job elsewhere if their current organization does not offer flexibility, the report continues. So as a business owner, keep this in mind: It’s in everyone’s best interest—including your own bottom line—to give team members the flexible work environment they desire.
Not only will this help with retention, but it can also boost morale and satisfaction, promote work-life balance, increase engagement, and curb exhaustion or burnout—all of which contribute to higher productivity. On that note, here are a few practical ways to create a more flexible work culture and environment for your organization.
Normalize a Hybrid Business Model
In this post-COVID climate, hybrid working is the new normal—and most employees will not settle for less. As a recent Gallup survey found, almost 60 percent of full-time U.S. employees would prefer to alternate between working remote and onsite. Not to mention, over half expect their organizations to maintain a hybrid business model for the foreseeable future. This is not an unreasonable expectation to accommodate either. Simply allow team members to choose their own work location, whether it’s at home, in the office, or a combination of both.
Prioritize Goals over Working Hours
Not all employees thrive within the parameters of a fixed working schedule with a set number of hours. Some team members are more productive early in the morning, while others hit their optimal performance stride later in the evening. Some can finish all their assignments in a compressed 10-hour, four-day week. Whereas others have to balance job responsibilities with personal commitments like childcare and, therefore, need to flex their time differently. As long as team goals are consistently met, don’t be a stickler about hours on the clock.
Allow for Innovation and Exploration
There is no one-size-fits-all method to tackle a project, resolve an issue, pursue a goal or test out an idea. So give each employee the freedom to explore different avenues for performing a job, based on their unique attributes. Someone might approach a task from an angle that hasn’t even occurred to you, but that’s how innovation will flourish. A flexible work environment should “encourage employees to use their diverse skill sets to innovate and improve how they do business,” says Concorde Investment Services—everyone wins, as a result.
Encourage the Use of Vacation Time
After two years of constant pivots and transitions, an overwhelming number of employees are running on fumes. Your team could use a break to refresh their energy levels, so create the flexibility for them to unplug. In a recent poll of 2,000 U.S. workers, 50 percent would rather have unlimited PTO than a higher salary. But the stress of feeling like they must be reachable at a moment’s notice can prevent them from disconnecting—even while on vacation. This is a main predictor of burnout, so establish a culture that allows employees to rest.
Trust Employees to Be Accountable
Trust is foundational to all strong, healthy relationships, and team dynamics in the workplace are no exception. As a leader, it’s crucial to model this for employees by trusting them to do their jobs effectively. When you micromanage or supervise them too closely, this communicates distrust, which will hurt morale and performance. Treat all team members like the accountable, self-motivated, competent adults they are—when you replace control with flexibility, trust, and confidence, they will rise to the occasion. You hired them for a reason, right?
Improve Your Team Culture with a Flexible Work Environment
In 2022, a flexible work environment is no longer just an attractive office perk—it’s a business must-have in order to retain employees and maximize performance. So provide the flexibility that team members want, and they’ll respond with the contributions and productivity metrics that spell success for your entire organization.