Create a Flexible Work Environment With These 6 Tips

October 1st, 2015 by
Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

Molly Hegeman, VP of HR Services

In today’s post Molly Hegeman, CAI’s Vice President of  HR Services, shares helpful strategies for companies looking to offer more flexible scheduling to its employees.

When CAI first surveyed about flexible schedules in 2012, 48% of companies responded that they offered some form alternative work schedules.  In the 2014 NC Policies and Benefits Survey, that number had grown to 52%. In a recent discussion that I had with a group of HR professionals in Jacksonville, NC, this market trend got a lot of interest. Alternative work arrangements are definitely gaining popularity with employees, as evidenced by feedback in the Employee Opinion Surveys that CAI conducts.  All levels and types of employees are voicing a greater interest in flexibility with their hours, the work environment, etc.

With the convenience of mobile and wireless devices, many employees can work nearly 24/7. It seems only right that we should recognize the efforts of employees who check and respond to emails, complete a project after hours, etc. by giving them flexibility with their time.  So, what does that mean for employers?  More specifically, how do you make it work, especially in traditional organizations?

It used to be that companies would only allow a policy to exist if it affected all employees. I don’t think that’s practical anymore. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe all employees should be treated fairly. But fairly does not mean equal in all situations. For example, you may be able to offer a work from home schedule to an employee whose work is fairly independent and not contingent upon physically being in the office. That may not be practical, however, for the receptionist whose main job function is physically greeting customers/clients. It’s probably not reasonable for the organization to set up a virtual/Skype situation.  But, that employee could be afforded the option of a modified work shift and/or remote phone coverage (leaving only limited in person reception duties to be rearranged when needed).

So what’s an organization to do when it hasn’t previously offered flexible scheduling or remote work arrangements?

  1. Understand the options like flex time (schedule-based: compressed work week, flex hours, etc.) and flex location (location-based: telework, working remote).
  2. Consider why you would introduce flex work arrangements and what problem you are trying to solve (downsizing office space, employee morale, etc.).
  3. Ensure your management team supports schedule and/or location-based flex arrangements
  4. Define eligibility and the business situations that support the flex arrangements (even if you start in selected departments within your organization)
  5. Establish guidelines and procedures for your employees and managers to follow
  6. Continuously evaluate the flex arrangements and impact on employees, morale, productivity, business needs, etc.

In a world where there are competing interests and demands on all of us, why not consider the opportunity to help support your employees’ work-life effectiveness?  Whether you introduce small changes or a full program, the positive reaction and response from your employees (and managers) will be returned ten-fold. Flex work arrangements are a great strategy in attracting, retaining and motivating your workforce!

Want more information on our survey findings? Need help creating or updating your flexible schedule policy? Feel free to contact me, Molly Hegeman, directly at (919) 713-5263 or molly.hegeman@capital.org.

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