You may hear people talking about flexibility in the workplace and not know what they are talking about. You may have heard it described as work-life balance which is something we probably understand a little bit more.
So firstly, what exactly is flexibility in the workplace?
Workplace flexibility ensures the needs of both the employee and employer are met in a way that suits both parties. It promotes adaptability in the ways of which we complete our work tasks and asks the employer to give the employee more control when organising how, when and where they work.
Work-life balance has become a bit of a buzzword in most recent years due to many employees being signed off sick with stress and anxiety. Work-related stress, depression or anxiety is defined as a harmful reaction people have to undue pressures and demands placed on them at work.
The latest estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) show: The total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2019/20 was 828,000, a prevalence rate of 2,440 per 100,000 workers. This was statistically significantly higher than the previous period. The main work factors cited by respondents as causing work-related stress, depression or anxiety were workload pressures, including tight deadlines and too much responsibility and a lack of managerial support (2009/10-2011/12).
Work-life balance is essential for productivity, fulfilment, and efficiency. An employee who is unable to create a positive relationship between life and work will suffer because of it. Employers that are not concerned about the welfare of their employees might squeeze out more efforts and time. This will in time lead to less productivity and the work will be of a lower standard and quality.
These statistics emphasise the importance of creating the environment for employees to work flexibly and encouraging staff to have work-life balance.
So how do we create flexibility in the workplace?
There are a variety of create flexibility within any company. It may seem overwhelming to completely transition to flexible working straight away, but you can take these small steps towards a more positive and productive workplace.
Offer a Flexible Work Schedule
This does not mean that employees can come and go whenever they like, in fact it is the opposite. It means listening to your employees needs. Whether that be coming in slightly later and finishing later to allow them to make the school runs or allowing remote working where possible. Be honest with your employees about what you can offer and be open to listening to what they want and need, too.
Create an open and honest work policy
By creating an environment where staff feel comfortable sharing new ideas and speaking up will help the company’s overall productivity. The benefits of this include higher staff engagement, creativity and quality of work. You also create a workplace where people feel fulfilled and safe to explore new ideas, which will reduce staff turnover and increase long term commitment.
Encourage staff having time off and disconnecting from work
A quick check of an email or answering a phone call when you are off work seems like an innocent act. this may though leave staff feeling like they can never switch off which will soon lead to stress and anxiety. As an employer it is vital that you lead by example and communicate with employees that it is ok to not respond to emails after you have finished work for the day and how important it is to take breaks. This is key to creating that all important work-life balance.
Inspire employees with an inspiring workplace
Long gone are the days of secluded work desks with boring, uninspiring grey walls that do not spark any creativity. Employees want to feel excited to come to work and you will be surprised at how important the physical layout of an office is. We now have the opportunity to provide teams with different areas within the office to work from. These range from standing desks in quiet corners and open areas where people can come together to collaborate.
As we can see, a truly flexible workplace can improve a multitude of things within a business and within the lives of our employees.
What is one thing you can implement today to create more work-life balance that will benefit both the employees and the company?