Flexible work is the future - get ready!

It’s time for employers to face the facts: work just isn’t as important as it used to be. As a society, we are placing a stronger emphasis than ever on life satisfaction and putting our personal lives first in more and more work-related decisions. In particular, the new generation of employees increasingly believe that work is an interference, and that the sacrifices required for it may not be worth it. 64% want to work from home occasionally, and 66% would like to adjust their working hours.

While it may be tempting to dismiss these findings purely as proof of a lazy and entitled generation of millennials, managers need to accept the bigger picture. The key belief driving millennials is in fact that productivity should be measure by output, rather than hours worked - this is a generation of efficiency and technology, who value their time and know a myriad of ways to save it.

Even then, they’re not the only ones who want a more flexible approach to their employment. Across all ages, companies with flexible or remote working arrangements benefit from 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t, showing the appetite for a work-life balance is strong across the generations.

So how can companies implement flexible working arrangements while ensuring that productivity and company culture doesn’t suffer? We’ve broken down the key ways to set-up your business up to succeed with a more flexible structure.

Ask your employees what they want!

Your first port of call when considering any changes to the way your employees work is asking them for their input. Explain that you are considering changes and outline what some of the potential benefits could be. Then find out what their needs and preferences are. You may think remote working will make a difference when in fact all they want to do is come in late twice a week after their child’s school run.

Talk through a range of options, from remote working and flexible hours to new shift patterns, and see what will most benefit the people who you’re going to ask to make this system work!

Use digital tools to increase flexibility

When an employee’s physical presence in a certain place at a set time is required, this limits the opportunities they have to adapt their working hours to suit them. This could entail having to attend daily standup meeting, talking to colleagues, or merely needing to access files from a physical location.

Consider which of these needs could be digitised and made more accessible - it’s likely there’s a solution for all of them, and many more functions! By enabling your employees to access pertinent information and resources as and when they need them, you eliminate the need for them to be physically present at a set time and allow them greater flexibility. Well-known solutions include Dropbox for filesharing, Slack for collaboration and discussion, and Skype for videoconferencing. Even more niche requirements, like maintaining a digital “to-do list” of categorised tasks within your company intranet, can be handled through specific SaaS applications like Kanban.

Make use of Findmyshift to book remote time and adjust shifts

Of course, we like to think that among the most useful digital tools for small businesses is the scheduling capabilities provided by Findmyshift. Whether it’s creating new shift patterns to suit variations in your employees’ schedule, adding a “remote working” area where people can book shifts away from the premises, or allowing for shift swaps at short notice, the host of features at your disposal can make flexible working a reality for your small business. Managerial oversight is easily maintained without sacrificing the needs of your employees.

However you choose to introduce flexible working arrangements in your business, best of luck!

About the author

Jake Waller is a wordsmith who plies his trade here at Findmyshift. He uses his background in engineering to simplify complex topics for a variety of tech firms. When not writing for Findmyshift he blogs under a pseudonym at My Name is Skylance and has a passion for creative writing and editing, about which he's always talking on Twitter.