For most of America’s working history, companies have operated under rather rigid structures. Even as working conditions, labor protection laws, and human resource management has evolved over time to address the realities of contemporary life, still attitudes toward work location and hours can make for anxious conversations and a fundamental question of trust and understanding between leaders and their teams.
Employees seek the kind of workplace flexibility that acknowledges they’re a whole person, not just a professional self, that allows them to work how and when they can be their most productive and in harmony with their personal lives. Caring for parents, being available to their children, having time for appointments and the occasional unplanned sick day—it doesn’t sound like much but when you’re grappling with a rigid work schedule to negotiate these needs, the demands of your personal life can begin to feel monumental.
Employers have seen only our country’s corporate history of in-office, regular hour work schedules—it’s simply how it’s been done. It’s easy for leaders to feel like they’re best slated to manage and oversee their team’s work if they’re under their nose, only a quick elevator ride or office meeting away. But the fact is a paltry 31 percent of U.S. and Canadian employees reported engagement as of last year, according to Gallup, so can we really say what corporate America’s been doing in the still works?
Workplace flexibility inspires employees because it promises a work culture that supports work life balance, sees professionals holistically, and practically addresses their personal needs to better support their efforts to be efficient and productive in their work. For employers, think of flexibility in the physical sense—the toughest, strongest of athletes is destined for injury if they don’t maintain flexibility, if they only build and overdevelop certain muscles at the expense of the need for every part of their body to be prepared for movement and agility, to accommodate stress, and to perform optimally.
Flexibility is a strength, not a weakness. Employers who’ve built a strong team of engaged professionals have firsthand experience of how performance increases, when a dedication to greater flexibility, that allows every part of the whole to work optimally and intelligently, is brought to the center of their workplace culture.
For more ideas about cultivating workplace flexibility in your business, take a look at Four Lessons From Companies That Get Employee Engagement Right and 7 Fascinating Employee Engagement trends for 2018.