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Why organisations can’t be rigid in their workplace flexibility approach

12 September 2023 5 min read

workplace flexibility

The conversation around workplace flexibility seems to reach new heights with each passing week – what works best? What do employees really want? How can businesses outdo their competitors and recruit and retain the best talent? The list goes on.

But in the midst of all the noise, it can be difficult for organisations to know where to start when it comes to improving workplace flexibility. Despite that, reviewing how your company chooses to offer flexibility, and seeing whether there’s potential to offer more, is definitely worth your while in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing market.

Here’s why.

The working landscape has changed forever

Since the pandemic, various workplace trends continue to be discussed in the media. Quiet quitting, the great resignation, loud quitting, burnout, presenteeism – you’ve likely heard these terms over and over again.

But these aren’t just buzzwords – they are signs of a shifting working landscape, whereby many employees are becoming more disengaged with their employers and choosing to leave their jobs in favour of one that offers benefits that they value.

It’s been argued that during the COVID-19 pandemic, the hiring crisis prompted employers to focus more attention on wellbeing in order to keep talent during uncertain times, with tailored wellbeing packages that complemented remote working. Three years on, we see many stories of employers now trying to coax staff back into the office more and more – which, for some employees, is reason enough to leave a company and find a job that continues to offer hybrid or remote working and the flexibility they’re seeking.

So, for companies that remain steadfast against offering flexibility, they are opening themselves up to the risk of seeing valuable talent walking out the door – potentially to a more flexible competitor.

If employees feel something is missing, they’ll find it somewhere else

Survey data released earlier this year by LinkedIn revealed that a third of UK workers said they would quit their role if their employer removed the option to work from home.

Not only that, but a recent survey of 1,000 UK workers by Zoom found that flexible hours and scheduling, as well as flexible working locations, ranked second and fourth amongst the most sought-after workplace perks. The majority of respondents (88%) said that flexible working makes them happier employees, and 75% said they would consider leaving their current job if they could have increased flexibility elsewhere.

It seems clear that flexibility (whether that’s through flexi-time, working from home or other options) is a highly desirable perk of the workplace that many employees aren’t willing to sacrifice. Despite calls from governments and business leaders around the world for a return to the office, many see this new way of working as permanent.

Offering flexibility at work builds trust

If an employer is willing to provide a generous flexibility, they’re more likely to see that generosity repaid in the form of passionate, dedicated and hardworking employees who genuinely enjoy their job.

This level of trust between an employer and an employee is extremely valuable. As champions of your organisation, having employees that are proud to work for you comes with its own merits – not least demonstrating to new recruits that you’re a great employer.

Slack’s latest quarterly survey showed that office workers who feel trusted present dramatically higher performance and experience than those who don’t feel trusted. Better focus, increased productivity and a greater overall satisfaction at work are also reported.

But in recent months, many companies are still experiencing bouts of ‘productivity paranoia‘ ever since employees began working from home in large swathes during the pandemic. This paranoia from people managers and business leaders is the feeling that workers must be slacking off while they’re at home – and being in the office at least provides visual confirmation that employees are indeed physically present at work.

However, presence in the office does not necessarily equal productivity. Many experts are calling for people management to change on a basic level whereby ideas and output are measured, rather than hours worked, as a more realistic productivity evaluation.

A good place to start? Assessing your absence and leave management

Knowing where your employees are, and how and when they are working, is a crucial element in aiding your workplace flexibility approach. As is ensuring your organisation have a positive culture surrounding absence and leave. Employees need to take holiday, and they will get sick from time to time requiring rest and recovery. Encouraging this time off not only helps to boost productivity, but also prevents issues such as burnout and disengagement.

But managing leave, absenteeism and resource planning can be challenging for people managers and HR. Spreadsheets and disjointed systems that make visibility over your teams inaccurate and unclear.

So how can organisations monitor who’s working, who’s on holiday, and who’s off sick in the most efficient way?

With edays, absence, leave and time can all be recorded, tracked and measured in one smart software solution. Whether you want an easy staff holiday planner, a sickness tracking platform, online timesheets or a combination of them all – we can help.

To learn more, click here to book a personalised demo of edays

Georgina at edays
September 12, 2023

Georgina Mackintosh is an accomplished copywriter and marketing professional with a background that spans several industries. Her writing focuses on HR topics such as employee wellbeing, engagement and experience - as well as absence management best practice, how-to guides and news from the HR sector.