Hybrid, remote and flex jobs are changing the face of the modern workplace. While it might seem like a temporary trend, experts believe the flexible work environment is here to stay.
The push to adopt a flexible work environment started out of the necessity to continue operations after the global pandemic changed the job market. Attracting and retaining employees has become a considerable challenge for businesses due to increased competition from outside industries. As a result, many companies have pivoted from the standard business model to a more flexible one.
Flexible work environments allow employees certain freedoms outside of the traditional time and location requirements for the given industry. In the last three years, many companies have switched to a fully remote or hybrid-remote workforce. Industries that require employees to be physically present in an office or job site also began offering custom benefit packages or hybrid schedules. Approaching work arrangements in a strategic way can keep operations on track, motivate employees and make job offerings more attractive to candidates.
Flexibility for Industrial Jobs
There are a number of industries that can’t offer fully remote positions or conventional hybrid schedules due to the nature of employees’ primary job functions. For instance, industrial and construction companies must adhere to federally regulated guidelines to ensure worker safety on job sites.
As an alternative, industrial companies can offer flexible policies tailored to on-site employees. Depending on the scope of work, some projects may allow compressed work weeks, job sharing and permanent part-time positions. Some businesses have started offering reduced hours with full benefits to parents, students or senior employees. Upskilling and educational programs are additional incentives that encourage growth within the company.
Leadership and management should collaborate to determine appropriate working patterns and policies for the company’s business model. Comprehensive training can also help ensure individuals in fundamental roles have a full understanding of operations and goals. Clear and concise communication is key during each step in the process.
How Do Businesses Benefit from Workplace Flexibility?
One of the main benefits of flexible and remote working conditions is the reduction of office space costs and related expenses. Studies have shown that offering hybrid and remote work options widens the talent pool for employers, increases employee productivity and encourages engagement. Greater flexibility can also improve morale and contribute to a healthier work-life balance.
Because flexibility gives individuals more responsibility and control over their working patterns, team members often report feeling more motivated to complete tasks. Workplace flexibility can also improve employees’ sense of well-being and overall energy levels.
While there are advantages to increased flexibility in the workplace, it’s important to consider potential drawbacks for your industry and business model. In some cases, on-site workplaces offer benefits such as better collaboration, fewer personal distractions and a stronger workplace culture. Companies can avoid pitfalls and longer adjustment periods by tailoring new policies to meet the needs of the workforce.
Overcoming Challenges with a Hybrid Remote Workforce
It can be challenging to keep employees engaged and productive in a flexible work environment. While some team members appreciate the added responsibility, others might have trouble adjusting to the new schedule. Here are some considerations that can help keep teams on track.
- Monitor Use and Periodic Breaks — When employees have multiple video calls or meetings in a day, it can take a toll on their mental and emotional energy. Turning off video cameras occasionally or suggesting periodic breaks can help employees learn to regulate stress in a healthy way.
- Set Work-from-Home Boundaries — Working from home can make it difficult for employees to separate work from their personal lives. For instance, you might notice an employee responds to emails on vacation or late at night. Consistently working beyond standard business hours can put added stress on team members, so managers should initiate a conversation to help them set clear boundaries.
- Encourage Taking Time off — Many employees feel uncomfortable calling in sick or taking time off when they work remotely. It’s important to remind these employees they can take mental health days as needed. Some companies offer additional mental health half-days or full days to encourage employees to rest and use that personal time for themselves.
Mental health and stress play a major role in your employees’ everyday lives, especially if they have not fully adjusted to a new work schedule. Managers should watch for signs of burnout, fatigue or a difference in output quality. Offering support and resources can help, but keep in mind a hybrid or remote work model might not be the best option for certain individuals.
Adopting a Flexible Work Model
When it comes to adopting a flexible work model, there are a few things every company owner should keep in mind for the business side of things.
- Policies — Flexible work policies must be clearly outlined in your employee handbook, so team members and managers can reference them when necessary. The policy should define expectations based on the requirements of each job type and category. It’s best to avoid vague or generic descriptions that make enforcing or understanding the guidelines difficult.
- Leadership — In order to enforce new policies properly, leadership must understand the working conditions associated with each role. Managers and executives should test out the work arrangement at least once. This step might not be practical for executives of larger companies with a mixed workforce. Still, it’s important for team leaders to consider the full range of challenges and differentiators the employees they manage face.
- Communication — Businesses should have a uniform communication method for all employees whether they work in the office, on the job site or from home. This step is especially important for organizations that employ a mixed workforce because remote and on-site positions need to know where to look for updates. Many companies outline primary communication methods in employee handbooks to avoid confusion.
- Inclusion — Employees who work remotely or travel between multiple job locations will not always be able to participate in company events such as luncheons, celebrations or outings. Hosting virtual events or accommodating hybrid schedules can prevent team members from feeling alienated or left out.
- Equipment — Remote and hybrid employees should have access to the appropriate technology and training required to conduct work outside the office. Insufficient equipment can lead to decreased productivity and frustrated employees, and that can discourage team members from embracing a new work model.
The Importance of Company Culture in a Flexible Work Environment
According to a Glassdoor survey, nearly two in three employees believe company culture is the biggest factor contributing to retention and turnover. Between today’s employment challenges and economic uncertainty, businesses should prioritize cultivating an inclusive and collaborative environment that benefits the entire workforce.
When company culture is an afterthought, it can cause employees to feel isolated from the rest of their colleagues and participate less when it comes to projects or social events. If certain issues are not addressed by leadership, detachment can lead to poor productivity and performance.
Businesses that successfully manage workplace culture in a hybrid model often see a higher return on investment. In fact, a Gartner survey reported employees are 2.4 times more likely to report high engagement and 2.7 times more likely to report high discretionary effort and intent to stay with the company.
Increasing worker productivity and keeping employees invested in their growth within the company are just a couple of the many benefits that can come out of a flexible work environment. At BCH, we understand every company and industry is unique. Our advisors have resources available to help you create custom-tailored work policies that meet the needs of your business when it matters.