One of the biggest issues companies have with building a flexible workforce is they don't fully understand what "flexibility" means in the business world. Flexible work doesn't just have to mean allowing teams to work remotely.
A flexible workplace can be any environment that provides employees with more diversity in managing their hours and workflows. The underlying idea is to switch from looking at productivity in terms of hours spent in the office to paying attention to an individual's output and key deliverables.
A flexible working strategy can include the following:
Before the pandemic, flexible working roles were relatively uncommon. Many business leaders assumed giving their team members more flexibility would damage productivity, lead to disengagement, and reduce results.
However, after the pandemic forced more companies to experiment with flexible strategies, they began to discover that flexible work offers many benefits for both businesses and their employees.
For employees, flexible working offers several distinct benefits. Primarily, it's an excellent tool for promoting wellbeing. With more flexibility in their work hours and locations, team members can spend more time focusing on their needs and personal life.
For team members, access to flexible work provides benefits like:
Crucially, in today's complex economic environment, flexible working opportunities can also help staff members to save money on commuting, buying lunch away from home, and more.
For employers, evidence of the benefits of flexible working has been mounting up for a while now. Studies have found, as reported by Gallup, that offering flexible work opportunities increases employee engagement. More engaged employees deliver better results and are more enthusiastic and energetic.
For business leaders, flexible work offers benefits like:
The first step in building a flexible team is learning how to adjust your recruiting strategy to improve your chances of reaching a diverse talent pool. The easiest way to make your roles more appealing to the right staff members, and boost your chances of accessing flexible talent, is to work with a recruitment company with experience in the field.
A recruitment company can help you enhance your job descriptions to showcase your focus on flexibility, determine which roles you can offer flexible work for, and even provide access to passive candidates and other sources of talent.
Alongside finding the right recruitment team, companies investing in flexible working practices will need to follow these steps to transform their hiring process:
First, it's worth examining your business structure and determining where flexible work is necessary or even possible. Not every role will be suitable for remote working, but many will benefit from different forms of flexibility, such as different working hours.
Examine the current team members in your workplace, and think about the roles you want to hire for. Consider the nature of the tasks employees will be completing and how productive they'll be able to be outside of the workplace or working according to their schedules.
It's also worth discussing options for flexible working with employees. For instance, ask your team members whether they'd prefer flexible working strategies or more structure in their routine.
Negotiate opportunities based on your staff members' needs and business requirements. For instance, if you can't allow a person to work remotely full time, can you offer a hybrid work schedule to benefit their work/life balance?
Once you've determined where flexibility can be implemented into your business structure, the next step is updating your job descriptions with a focus on the opportunities you can offer. In the landscape, a job description isn't just a way to inform candidates of the tasks they'll be expected to complete in a role. While setting expectations for output is important, it's also crucial to highlight your employee value proposition and what you can offer your teams.
Explain in job descriptions exactly what aspects of flexible working each candidate can access in their role. Can they choose to work remotely or in a hybrid setting? Will they have autonomy over their working hours or be able to work a four-day week?
It's also worth communicating how your company empowers employees to stay productive and efficient. Highlight the tools and resources you can offer flexible employees, how you preserve company culture with different types of workers, and how you deliver on promises for diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Next, business leaders need to consider how they'll assess each candidate's viability for flexible work. Not every employee will be well-suited to a remote or hybrid work strategy. Some team members need more structure to thrive in their roles. During the interview process, you can ask questions to look for specific traits crucial to flexible working, such as:
Recruiting flexible workers to join your team is only the first step in creating a productive and powerful company in the modern world. Once you've found the right talent for your workforce, you must also ensure you provide your staff members with the tools and resources they need to thrive.
Companies can empower their flexible teams in several ways, from investing in innovative cloud-based technology to keep staff connected to investing in consistent communication. Here are some core areas business leaders must focus on to ensure their employees can stay productive.
First, while flexible work is becoming more common in the landscape, it's still something many employees aren't familiar with. While you can assess your new candidates during the interview process to check for traits and characteristics that make them suitable for flexible work, it's also worth providing access to consistent training and development focusing on.
Additionally, companies could consider implementing mentorship and buddy programs, which encourage staff members to share skills and learn collaboratively. Mentors in the business environment can share their insights, help to keep staff members engaged and improve the onboarding experience for new staff members.
Implementing flexible work into the landscape doesn't just involve investing in cloud-based software and giving teams more autonomy over their schedules. Companies also need to adapt their culture and focus on strengthening the mindsets of their flexible employees.
First and foremost, it's important to create a sense of community in the workplace between every employee, regardless of whether they're working remotely, on a traditional schedule, or with a condensed work week.
Around half of the employees in one study said they stayed in their jobs for longer when they felt a strong sense of community. Encourage your teams to collaborate and communicate regularly to build stronger bonds.
Additionally, it's worth cultivating the right mindset by setting expectations for flexible work as early as possible. Let team members know how much freedom they'll have and how they'll be expected to perform in return. Provide regular feedback and guidance to ensure staff members stay on the right track, and encourage people to act independently and communicate their needs to leaders and supervisors when necessary.
Other great ways to boost your flexible company culture include:
While many factors can make or break the success of a flexible team, few things are more important than the right leadership strategy. Leaders in your team are responsible for keeping staff engaged, motivated, and productive wherever they are.
Start by teaching leaders how to adapt their management style to their team members. Focus on eliminating issues like "micromanagement". 68% of workers say micromanagement decreases their morale, and 55% say it harms their productivity.
Today's flexible staff members want to feel like they're trusted to handle things independently. Unfortunately, business leaders can often struggle to determine when to give employees autonomy and when to provide direction.
Leaders can improve the morale and performance of flexible teams by:
Above all, leaders should consistently commit to building trust in the workplace. Encourage supervisors and managers to give their teams the freedom to work independently and concentrate on delivering transparent, honest communications.
Adapting to a flexible workplace environment can seem complex for any team. However, learning to recruit and build a flexible workforce is becoming increasingly crucial in the modern world. Implementing the right strategies can improve your chances of attracting top talent to your team, boost employee retention, and even strengthen productivity.
One of the best ways to strengthen the quality of your flexible workplace strategy is to work with a recruiter who knows how to navigate the flexible landscape. A dedicated recruiter will help you to attract more candidates to your roles, make your employer brand more attractive, and expand your talent pool.