How to Create the Win–Win of Maximized Productivity and Cost Savings With a Flexible Workplace
A flexible workplace is no longer a “nice to have” for jobseekers. In the post-pandemic era, flexible work arrangements have become an expectation, and in many cases, nonnegotiable.
With the number of people primarily working from home having tripled since 2019 (yes, you read that right) the flexible workforce is here to stay. But it’s not just about remote work. The idea is that employees have the freedom to work where and how they want, allowing them to better balance their personal and professional lives. However, some employers are still trying to manage their workers with a heavy hand—a mentality that will not pay off in the long run.
Companies that uphold the idea that employees need to be constantly monitored and actively motivated to maintain productivity and quality of work are not work environments that will attract jobseekers. Now more than ever, employees are more upfront about how this is self-defeating, leaving them feeling micromanaged by leadership who don’t trust them to do great work.
In this article, we’ll show you how taking a less-is-more approach to overseeing a flexible workplace can actually lead to better results for your company. Plus, we’ll provide seven high-impact tips on how employers like you can maximize productivity from a flexible workforce without micromanaging your employees.
The Benefits of a Flexible Workforce
A flexible workplace isn’t just a benefit for employees. Despite what you may have heard or believe from decades spent in the 9–5, office-only arrangements of the past, employers stand to gain a whole lot of benefits from flexibility too—and the stats prove it.
A flexible workplace provides employees with the freedom to work when, where and how they want, which can have a significant positive impact on their productivity. A 2019 study showed that remote workers worked nearly a day and a half more per month on average than in-office employees. In addition, while in-office workers reported an average of 37 minutes of time “wasted” a day (outside of lunch and standard breaks), remote employees only lost 27 minutes of each workday to distractions.
And even outside of time spent in the office, lest not forget how much commute times had an impact on productivity. In this Gallup poll from 2012, data proved the direct impact of commute times and level of employee engagement. The percentage of actively disengaged workers who report a lot of stress and worry in their lives without a lot of happiness and enjoyment increases from 15.5% for those with short commutes to 27.1% for those with long commutes.
This goes to show that when employees have control over their work schedule, they are more likely to feel energized, motivated, and can work during their most productive hours—which means they can complete their tasks more efficiently and with better quality.
Increased Job Satisfaction
This one is pretty straightforward. When employees have more control over their work schedules and the ability to work remotely, they often experience higher levels of job satisfaction which naturally reduces turnover. A survey of more than a thousand U.S. employees found that companies that allow remote work experience 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t.
Greater Work-Life Balance
Flexible work arrangements allow employees to better balance their personal and professional responsibilities—reducing stress, improving overall well-being and leading to happier and more engaged workers. Again, with morale and productivity going hand in hand, a more balanced work and home life will naturally lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction
Cost Savings for the Company
Perhaps one of the most obvious perks to implementing a flexible work environment is that companies who do so are more likely save a lot of money compared to companies that do not. Between rent and utilities, cleaning services, food, parking, maintenance, insurance and taxes (to name just a few), companies save millions of dollars by embracing a more flexible environment and setting people up to work from home.
A Larger Pool of Talent
Flexible work arrangements allow companies to tap into a larger pool of talent, including those who may not be able to work a traditional 9–5 job. CareerBuilder even found that they received seven times more applicants for jobs allowing employees to work from home full or part-time than in-person roles.
Seven Tips for Maximizing Productivity in a Flexible Workplace
While the benefits of a more flexible workplace are undeniable at this point, we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge that the shift from in-office only to flexible can take a good deal of effort. With productivity at the top of many employers’ list of concerns, applying a micromanagement style to balance the perceived “risks” of giving people flexibility might seem like the easier answer.
But the truth is that 85% of people feel that micromanagement negatively impacts their morale, and 69% of employees are considering leaving their current job because of it. So, it’s safe to say that this outdated leadership style—which ultimately reduces employees’ sense of freedom and discourages independence, creativity, accountability and engagement perhaps more than any other factor—is not the answer to getting the most value out of your flexible workplace.
Instead, employers should take a more hands-off approach. Consider these tips when cultivating a company culture that encourages flexibility and promotes a highly productive and motivating work environment.
1. Set clear expectations and goals
Clear expectations and goals are essential to ensuring everyone knows what they need to accomplish, the timeline for completing it, and what constitutes success. When communicating these expectations with employees, be specific and explain the reasoning behind them. This helps employees understand the significance of their work and motivates them to achieve the best outcome.
2. Encourage open communication
Effective communication is the heart of any workplace but is especially critical in a flexible workforce. Employees need to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with their colleagues and managers. Trust and safety cannot be assumed; they are built over time. Be sure to prioritize things like asking your employees for input, recognizing their hard work and taking time to intentionally connect with them on a personal level to create a safe and respectful environment. In turn, you can expect your remote workers to keep you updated and proactively flag any concerns or roadblocks.
3. Establish regular touchpoints
Regular interactions with employees are essential to human connection, to keeping people informed about their progress, and to responding to feedback and concerns. These interactions should be scheduled ahead of time and be used to review goals and progress, discuss potential roadblocks and brainstorm solutions. Feel free to build in a little time for non-work conversation to build your relationships remotely, too. Don’t skip these opportunities to provide constructive feedback and recognize a job well done, which is incredibly motivating for all involved.
4. Use collaboration tools
Collaboration tools are essential for flexible workforces. They enable employees to communicate and work together, no matter where they are in the world. They help teams stay organized and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. Tools like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Trello, Asana and Zoom are just a few you can explore for your team.
5. Foster a culture of trust and connection
Trust is the foundation of any successful flexible workforce. When employees feel trusted, they are more likely to take the initiative, be productive, and stay engaged. To foster trust, empower your employees to make decisions, delegate responsibilities and provide them with the support and resources they need to be successful.
Further, trust is a two-way street, so you can build trust virtually by being responsive, following through and reminding people that you’re there for them. Giving teams a chance to connect socially via a regular virtual coffee, lunch or happy hour is a great way to build community from across the country or even the world. Isn’t technology grand?
6. Offer opportunities for growth and development
Employees want to feel that they are progressing in their careers. Providing opportunities for growth and development will increase job satisfaction and motivation. This can take many forms, such as offering training and development programs, cross-functional projects and job rotations. Foster a culture of mobility and shared responsibility for career development. When your people share ideas about where their path could go next, listen to them and create those opportunities whenever possible. Remember that great leaders don’t keep people boxed into their original role. They champion growth and they build careers—no matter the workplace arrangement.
7. Use a recruiter to hire the right people
Whether they work in the office, at home, or both, the wrong hires will let you down every time. But when you use a professional recruiting firm to help you hire top-tier talent you can trust, you’ll be blown away by the results. Insist on high-performing team members who are qualified for the role as well as autonomous, accountable and reliable—no matter where they work.
Looking for Highly Motivated Professionals? TeamSoft Can Help.
Since 1996, TeamSoft has made it our mission to build relationships and match clients with high-quality professionals. For companies looking to expand their talent community with more flexible positions, TeamSoft specializes in services like contract staffing and contract to hire.
Contact us today to get connected with qualified candidates who are ready to help your company get real results.