By Reagan Nickl
Enterprise Customer Success Senior Manager
Flexible work arrangements have rapidly risen to prominence in offices in recent years thanks to the many benefits they offer. Not only do they meet the demands of facilities working to maximize their useable space effectively, they’re also a cornerstone of culture-focused companies.
But why the rapid rise in more accommodating work environments? What are the benefits of flexible work arrangements? And, most importantly, are they actually worth it for companies and their employees?
All of these are valid questions. They’re also addressed by the opportunities flexible work arrangements bring about. The benefits of flexible work arrangements are numerous, encompassing productivity, social positives, space utilization, and, as the name implies, flexibility for agile companies.
What are flexible work arrangements?
Flexible work arrangements have a broad definition. In the physical sense, it’s anything that untethers workers from their desk and allows them to float freely in the office. You might work at a hot desk one day, occupy a window seat the next, and collaborate with a group in a conference room later in the week. Flexible working is all about having the option to work in a space conducive to your needs.
Beyond the physical, the concept of flexible working takes on its own definition. There are many intangibles that contribute to a flexible work situation, including being able to work from home or a coworking space. Other cornerstones of the flexible work mantra include working nontraditional hours or condensed workweeks and utilizing new tech to accomplish work in a different way (think cloud collaboration or digital presentations).
Flexible work arrangements—regardless of the variables involved—are a true embodiment of their name. To really understand why they’re such a boon for companies, let’s explore their benefits closely at each angle.
Focus on productivity
When you give workers the opportunity to work how, when and where they want, don’t be surprised when the work gets done!
The fact is, the traditional work environment isn’t conducive to everyone’s work habits. Someone people do their best work in solitary, quiet environments with few disruptions. Others work better in the very early morning and prefer to be done midday. Still more have hectic lives and may optimize their work around different times of the day. Affording every worker the opportunity to work in the way that suits them is the epitome of flexible work arrangements.
Productivity also hinges on the willingness of a worker to adapt to their work environment. When you turn this concept on its head and put the power into the hands of your workers, you’re putting the focus on productivity and the burden of that productivity on them. Responsible workers will embrace it and reward you for it in the caliber of the work they do.
Social environments improve culture
The office has always been a social place. And while we may no longer have water coolers to stand around, there’s more than a fair amount of socialization in the workplace. Embracing a flexible work environment means embracing the social aspect of your workplace’s culture.
When employees aren’t tied to their desks, they’re free to work wherever and with whomever they want. This unlocks powerful collaboration and camaraderie among your workers. Andy and Chris have a lot in common and are friends outside of work; allowing them to collaborate at work and bounce ideas off of each other will create an environment rife for productivity. The same is true for Leslie, Ann, and April, who are working together on a group project. Being able to control their work environment and schedule allows them to collaborate in a way that’s best for all of them, with a social element that makes work feel a little less like work.
When you give the power of flexible work arrangements to your staff, you encourage them to be social. Socialization creates workplace bonds, which improves morale, which all rolls into employee satisfaction and engagement.
Defying the constraints of space
Commercial real estate isn’t cheap. For many companies, it’s not until they reach the absolute breaking point that they choose to upgrade their lease to pay for more square footage. In the meantime, it’s a creative effort to make the most of the space you have. Flexible work arrangements offer an immediate, almost too-good-to-be-true solution.
In the physical sense, swapping out cumbersome desks and personal workspaces for flexible seating options can free up a substantial amount of square footage. This has the effect of giving everyone a little more personal space, reducing friction and improving comfort—alongside the many benefits inherent in flexible work situations.
More than just improving space utilization, flexible work arrangements can actually get people out of your office or, at the very least, stagger their use of it. Separating your 8am to 6pm workforce into two shifts will prevent overlap from so many bodies in one place at the same time. Moreover, remote workers and those occupying coworking spaces will further unburden your facilities.
Flexibility in any situation
Flexible work arrangements are aptly named. Remodeling your current space? Delegate remote workers for a few days. Need a group to collaborate, then pair off and work in teams? Make flexible workspaces available. When you free your office of the traditional seating arrangement and look beyond the usual schedule, you’ll find opportunities abound.
Making the shift to a flexible work arrangement has benefits for both workers and your business, spanning a range of angles. If you’re looking for a way to boost morale, increase workplace productivity, optimize your space, and create opportunities, flexible work arrangements are undoubtedly worth exploring.