Published 01 February 2016 Category: Workplace

5 Trends in Workplace Flexibility

If you’re someone who is much more efficient waking up at noon and working in your pyjamas, then rejoice – many companies are beginning to embrace the idea of a flexible workplace too.

While their methods differ, each of the following trends turns its back on the traditional nine-to-five office structure and instead gives employees more power to create their ideal work environment – whether that’s at home, a café or even up a mountain!

Telecommuting

… Which is basically a fancy word for “working from home”! While this used to be reserved for days when your child falls ill or you have to wait at home for the plumber, many companies are now realising the benefits of allowing employees to work remotely. By ditching that commute to the office, employees get to sleep in an extra hour, save on transportation expenses and work from the comforts of their own home; meanwhile, employers reap the rewards of not only more productive employees but also the opportunity to hire workers with unique skillsets who live further afield... perhaps even in another country entirely. Unsurprisingly, tech companies have been most welcoming of this trend, since most of their work is done remotely via computer anyway!

Flexible Hours

Also known as flexitime, this refers to the idea of a variable work schedule, rather than the traditional nine-to-five workday. Leading European nations are at the forefront of this trend; the United Kingdom grants every employee the right to request flexible working hours, whilst several businesses in the Swedish city of Gothenburg recently trialled six-hour workdays. When forced to get the same amount of work done in a shortened amount of time, studies found employees to be more focused on the task at hand, with less time spent chatting with co-workers or surfing the net; employers also noticed that workers took fewer sick days and seemed more energetic and motivated as a result, whilst flexitime also reduces staff costs too. Many birds, one stone!

Virtual Offices

The idea that the office is a fixed location filled with cramped cubicles is now a thing of the past. Virtual offices are becomingly increasingly popular, providing the façade of a professional, fully functioning office with a virtual assistant and mailing address but without the expenses of renting a concrete space. However, this does make it more difficult to retain employees and track work performance, as there is understandably less accountability without a place to report to. Unsurprisingly, this approach has proved popular amongst small businesses and start-ups with more limited funds and fewer employees to keep tabs on.

Third Spaces

While working from home is great, the truth is sometimes there are matters that can only be handled by speaking or collaborating with people in-person – so enter “third spaces”. Think of these as an as-needed version of co-working spaces, where owners of small businesses can become members of clubs where they can take clients, interviewees or even meet with colleagues regularly. However, unlike a traditional co-working space, the environment is more relaxed and social (like a café or lounge), thus providing a casual but still professional meeting place between office and home.

Unlimited Holidays

Yes, you read that right! Referred to as “discretionary time off” in HR-speak, LinkedIn, Netflix and Virgin Group are just some of the corporate giants that have adopted a policy whereby employees are given the power to take off as many days a year as they see fit. The goal is to place a greater emphasis on results instead of time worked and to reduce employee burnout. On the plus side, this policy is a huge draw for potential workers and gives employees a greater sense of control over their work-life balance. Nevertheless, there is also the risk that some employees may end up taking fewer days off than they should out of guilt – after all, how much time off is too much?

While your current workplace environment may not be undergoing drastic changes anytime soon, these flexible workplace trends – each with their own pros and cons – are slowly sweeping the business world. Who knows… maybe that grey cubicle will be nothing more than a museum artefact in a couple of decades!

From answering your phone calls to tele-conferencing, talk to us about how we can help make your worklife more flexible.