Recently, there has been a heated discussion about return-to-office mandates among hiring experts, employees, and business executives. Many job seekers search for employment that is flexible enough to let them work from home a few days a week if not more.

Many businesses are still trying to determine whether having employees in the office is necessary and how to communicate this to the outside world.

Besides, most business executives these days pay more attention to the never-ending office presence controversy than to the techniques and plans required to create a long-lasting, flexible, and appealing work environment.

So, in a world where flexible work schedules are common, businesses can build engaged, highly effective teams.

“Success in a hybrid work environment requires employers to move beyond viewing remote or hybrid environments as a temporary or short-term strategy and to treat it as an opportunity. Employers, managers, and employees will share ownership of hybrid work decisions, with a common expectation that employees can switch locations dynamically and without a fixed or rigid pattern. Where, and when, work gets done will be determined by what makes the most sense to drive the highest levels of productivity and engagement.” ~ George Penn, Managing Vice President at Gartner

In this blog, we’ll shed light on the best practices for flexible workforce management:

What Is Flexible Work?

Employees who have flexible work arrangements can select their work schedules. This can be divided into two main groups. The first model offers full flexibility. This means that either the job is fully remote, or that it allows employees to select their own working hours to visit the workplace.

The second model includes an organized hybrid framework, fulfilling one of the following terms:

  • There is a minimum number of days employees must be in the office
  • There are specific days of the week employees must be in the office
  • There is a minimum percentage of time employees must be in the office

On the other hand, inflexible work arrangement is the traditional approach: full-time in-office requirements, where employees must work in the office during business hours.

Recently, many companies have been transitioning to the second category, pushing employees back into the office at least a few days per week.

Interesting Facts About Flexible Work

  • Remote workers are 13% more productive than their in-office counterparts.
  • Flexibility and reduced distractions often lead to higher levels of output.
  • Remote work promotes better work-life balance.
  • Most of the working population (54%) currently work in a part-time or flexible role.
  • 63% of full-time employees already work flexibly.
  • 84% of male full-time employees either work flexibly or want to.
  • 91% of female full-time workers either work flexibly or want to.
  • 93% of non-workers would prefer to get a part-time or flexible job.
  • Only 9.8% of jobs are advertised as flexible at the hiring stage.

How Companies Can Implement Flexible Work Well?

Employees want flexible work schedules. However, developing a policy that benefits all parties involved and having a flexible work policy needs two different perceptions.

For the latter, hiring managers must have a well-defined plan for flexible work that maximizes output, effectiveness, and worker satisfaction.

For this, it’s critical to gain support from all departments and motivate stakeholders to review how work is structured and how to cooperate.

Moreover, it is essential for recruiting experts to comprehend the workflows and processes of the company if they are unsure of where to begin.

So, collaborate with relevant parties to create policies and procedures that support a satisfying work environment. Provide everyone with the best resources to get optimal productivity, regardless of the working standards that individual teams choose to use.

We’ve plotted some common practices that companies must implement if they want to manage a flexible workforce.

1. Developing a Vision

A manager’s duty is to provide a strong incentive for staff members to say “yes” to an idea. This is one aspect of their duty as team lead. According to a recent survey, employers who take the time to develop and share a long-term vision for flexible work find it simpler to get their staff back into the office.

Therefore, hiring managers must understand what things are connected to the organization’s goals. They need to fill in the gaps for staff members, explaining to them the benefits of returning to work and how it advances the organization’s strategic objectives.

Furthermore, every business must have the space to experiment, fail, learn, update, enhance, and expand its flexible work practices. Also, adopting better processes has the potential to yield optimal policies and activation strategies.

2. Having the Right Tools

More than vision is required for hiring professionals and business executives to employ flexible work models within their organization effectively. Organizations need to introduce the right tools and technology that leads to a better working environment both internally and externally.

Several tools have become immensely popular and have established themselves as effective remote work facilitators considering the digital revolution and the new needs for remote work.

Any firm can find a solution to suit its specific needs, whether they are related to communication (like Slack), project management (like Asana), or even fostering workplace connections (like VR).

Hence, companies need to reassess how they communicate and organize work. Also, they must find ways to determine whether their communication channels are quick, varied, and fluid. Thus, providing a flexible and easy-to-use work environment before choosing the appropriate solutions.

3. Attracting and Retaining Employees

The attitudes of job seekers have changed with the nature of work. Hiring managers must be aware that flexible work makes a difference in a candidate’s acceptance; Even for positions with comparable pay and perks. This information is also essential to a business’s advertising plan for hiring. Any changes to the company’s employment model should be reflected in its marketing.

According to a survey, even once an applicant accepts a job offer, firms still have work to do because current workers value flexible work schedules anyway. Infact, 45% of applicants said they would quit a job if it didn’t allow them to work remotely when needed. Thus, having flexible work practices is essential for retaining employees.

4. Understanding What Employees Want

While 87% of employees who are given the option to work remotely work three days a week on average, the number of remote and hybrid employment has decreased from all-time highs in most industries. There is a huge mismatch between what employers want and the flexibility that employees provide.

Furthermore, it is evident that understanding what employees desire from a business is essential to retaining them. You can create a work environment that easily attracts and keeps the best candidates and employees. This is done by combining the power of AI-driven insights from a digital platform with digital survey tools that let you find out what your employees desire.

5. Prioritizing DEIB Initiatives

Not every applicant wants to be working remotely. While some workers prefer the office setting, others come in because they can’t function well from home or because their living conditions don’t allow for remote work.

Besides, it’s possible that different groups will not view or experience remote work in the same way. It’s a good idea for employers to think about how their choice of flexible working model aligns with the company’s values as they continue to implement their diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging objectives.

Thus, DEIB considerations should be broadened and applied. For example, to parents or caregivers, people with impairments, and people participating in religious ceremonies, etc.

6. Making It a Realistic Choice

While many workers enjoy being in an office setting, many others choose the flexibility that comes with working remotely. So, it is essential to confirm that a particular workplace model is a workable strategy for the company.

Joining the bandwagon of full-time in-office requirements would be foolish if most of the staff choose to leave, particularly if they are high performers who perform better when working from home.

Final Thoughts

Providing a flexible work environment goes beyond maintaining output and performance levels. Building the employer brand and upholding a strong employee value proposition are also important. Such factors enable the employer to communicate what makes their business special and appealing to employees.

In a scenario where remote work is not an option, it is even more critical to reinforce the employee value proposition by making every employee feel acknowledged and respected and by outlining any additional benefits.

Lastly, it’s critical to design adaptable workplace models that accommodate every employee. Whichever work style an organization decides on, every choice should benefit the workforce and demonstrate its commitment to creating a progressive environment.