Flexible working is much more than just when and where you work. For a truly positive employee experience, it’s important to consider the other dimensions of flex. These are what you work on and how you work.
When all four dimensions are taken into account, it’s possible to create an environment that increases job satisfaction, productivity and performance while supporting work-life balance.
Hybrid and Remote Working
The first dimension of flexible working is where you work. There are companies everywhere that are experimenting with different hybrid and remote working options.
If your team is currently splitting time between the office and home then it’s important to regularly assess how well it’s working.
- Does the physical environment support a productive and healthy workday? Encourage members of the team to schedule an ergonomic assessment and share with each other any other ways they create a better workspace.
- Are you pairing your tasks to the best location for completing them? Take advantage of working in different locations by choosing to work on different tasks depending on where you are. For example, you might plan to do collaborative work while in the office. As a manager, be considerate of the deadlines you set for different tasks to allow team members to optimise their weekly plan based on location.
- Is there a feedback system in place within your organization? The hybrid and remote work models are still relatively new to most organisations. Having a communication plan in place to allow people to share feedback about what is and isn’t working is key to improving this over time.
Flexible Working Hours
When it comes to flexible working, one of the most important factors is determining when you work. Various work arrangement options exist that allow individuals to be flexible with their schedules. This depends on their job requirements and interactions with other coworkers, customers and suppliers.
Some examples include:
- Core working hours: All employees are required to work within a defined set of core hours and have flexibility around their start and finish times.
- Summer Hours: Employees have the option to finish work early, usually on a Friday. This is known as summer hours because many companies offer it for a few months of the year. Some companies have this option in place all year round.
- Condensed workweek: A 40-hour workweek is condensed into 4 or 4.5 days. People work longer hours on some days to take advantage of a shorter working week.
- 4-day workweek: A standard 5-day workweek is reduced by one day. Employees are asked to produce the same output in a shorter workweek and they do not see a decrease in pay.
- Flexi-hours: Employees can work at any time during the workweek as long as they complete a pre-agreed number of hours.
If your company has a flexible workweek, what can you do as a team to ensure everyone can take full advantage of it?
Role Autonomy – What you work on
Flexible work has many aspects, one of which includes the ability to choose the projects you work on. Allowing yourself, and members of your team, to take on different tasks and responsibilities is beneficial for multiple reasons.
It helps keep you motivated by switching up mundane tasks with something new and interesting, can feed your creative side, and lets you develop additional skills. Additionally, rotating responsibilities within teams provide them with broader knowledge as well as growth opportunities for employees staying in the same role.
Role Autonomy – How you complete your work
The fourth way to add more flex to the workday is by giving employees more control over how, when, and in what order they complete their tasks. This encourages them to look for better ways to do work and enables them to develop a stronger connection with the job.
By having control over their work processes, employees can feel empowered and have higher levels of job satisfaction.
Connecting the Four Dimensions of Flexible Working
The four dimensions of flexibility connect to create an overall experience for the employee. The degree of flexibility in each area will depend on the culture of the company, the nature of the work and the skill level of the employee.
The following two examples illustrate the impact of flexibility in the four different areas.
Employee A: Employee A is in a company with a mandated hybrid work policy. They are required to spend every Tuesday and Wednesday in the office.
They have no flexibility around their working hours, what they work on or how they do their work. Their workday is 9-5 and their manager assigns a specific set of tasks which they must complete in a particular way.
As a result, the only difference between workdays is the location. But this also comes with a commute and less time at home with their family.
Employee B: Employee B also works in a company with a mandated hybrid work policy. This company has also adopted core hours and Employee B has some autonomy over what they work on and how.
Company policy requires them to spend two days every week in the office. Employee B chooses to go into the office on Wednesday and Thursday. They also choose to start and finish their day early to avoid heavy traffic.
Employee B works on their pet project on office days because this has no short-term deadlines. They arrange catch-ups with the new person they are mentoring and other people they want to build relationships with. They organise their at-home days to have blocks of uninterrupted time for deep work.
As a result, Employee A and Employee B have two very different experiences of hybrid working.
Add more flex to your workday
If you’re looking to boost productivity and support the well-being of your team, flexible work solutions are a great place to start.
Begin by evaluating your current setup and testing new strategies based on the four dimensions covered in this article. By focusing on providing more flexible options for your team, you can pave the way for increased efficiency, better job satisfaction and a better workday overall.