The Case for Increased Workplace Flexibility

By Natanya Rutstein

The call for greater workplace flexibility is getting louder by the day. Employees are keen to work closer to home, during office hours of their choice and which free them up to enjoy more leisure time and meet family and other personal commitments. Driven largely by advancement in technology and employee demand for greater work-life integration, the inclusion of flexible workplace practices in your talent management strategy could very well provide your organisation with a strategic advantage in the war for talent and constitute the deciding factor for a candidate applying to work at your organisation.

The numerous advantages of embedding workplace flexibility within your organisational culture, are beneficial to both employee and employer. To name a few:

  1. Healthier work-life balance

 With more freedom to schedule suitable work times and the choice of a convenient work location, whether it’s a coffee shop, at home, or a nearby business centre, employees are more able to balance meeting their work objectives and personal commitments. Less time spent commuting, reduces stress levels and frees employees up to exercise more, cook healthy meals and spend time with their family. This balance can lead to a reduction in absenteeism and healthcare costs.

  1. Improved Employee Experience (EX)

 A 2006 employee survey carried out for the CIPD by Kingston University found that employees who were able to work with more flexibility, were more emotionally engaged, more satisfied with their work, more likely to speak positively about their organisation and less likely to quit. Forward thinking organisations cannot afford to exclude workplace flexibility options from the design of their EX (Employee Experience) strategy.

  1. Recruitment advantage

With more elderly employee’s electing or being forced to extend their careers beyond the legal retirement age, flexible workplace options will allow organisations to hold onto this much needed and valuable expertise. They will also be able to recruit from the increasing number of freelancers and consultants, opting to work as such so as to hold-on to the freedom and flexibility that accompanies this kind of work.

A career insight survey conducted by AfterCollege revealed that 68% of millennial job seekers prefer companies that offer flexible working conditions. With millennials estimated to comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020, it is so important to design an EVP which makes your organisation an attractive opportunity to these workers.

  1. Reduce Costs

 Workplace flexibility allows organisations to reduce their fixed office costs and avoid fixed leasing arrangements. It also promotes organisational agility by enabling a rapid response to market forces through either expansion or contraction of the workforce. American Express was able to save in excess of $10 000 000 in real estate costs as a result of their “Blue Work Programme” which matched workstyle preferences with workspace.

  1. Boosting Productivity

Happier, less stressed and more engaged employees are more committed to delivering on their goals and working harder. 74% of South African workers say that working closer to home will boost their productivity levels and commitment.

To ensure the success of your workplace flexibility programme, it cannot merely be used as a perk to attract much needed talent, but rather, must be embedded in the very culture of your organisation, together with the appropriate support mechanisms and structures which will ensure its success.

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