The chatter around workplace flexibility is evolving, but many companies still remain hesitant to give it to their employees. The demand for flexibility is steadily rising, and so is proof that it’s beneficial for both employers and employees.
A July Randstand survey of 4,066 employees, Managing Gen Y and Z in the Workplace, found that younger employees surveyed thought flexibility was a more important benefit than healthcare.
This mindset creates a deep need for organizations to rethink the future of the antiquated traditional office. The myths behind why companies refuse to loosen the reins are being busted, and employees are ready for this productive change.
Here are five workplace flexibility myths:
1. Employees will goof off.
The image of employees at home, chasing children, playing video games and catching Pokemon in the middle of the day scares employers out of office flexibility. Productivity is one of the biggest concerns on leaders’ minds when they consider flexibility, but employees are telling their employers they have it backwards.
Fact: Offices are full of distractions -- like colleagues who constantly interrupt others' work, frequent meetings and a physically uncomfortable work environment. FlexJobs’ 5th Annual Super Survey in 2015 asked 3,100 professionals where they go to complete an important project, and only 7 percent said they felt most productive in the office.
Consider moving your main focus from hours worked to tasks completed. Employers who are nervous about the amount of work completed should lay out specific goals with set deadlines. Make sure employees understand the urgency behind each deadline, and at what time of day the deadline ends. This will put leaders and their teams on the same page to ensure that productivity is high and clients stay satisfied.
2. Communication will suffer.
Time-sensitive emergencies pop up in every business, so it’s no surprise that leaders are worried about not being able to walk down the hallway to discuss the details with their team. Lack of communication can cause issues in any relationship -- especially working relationships -- but flexibility doesn’t mean the end of immediate communication.
Fact: Evolving technology has made instantaneous connections available from almost anywhere in the world. From phone calls and text messaging to emails and video chat -- there’s no reason employees can’t be readily available, even if they aren’t physically in the office.
Relieve communication anxieties among your team with an online feedback platform. For example, HappyOffice is a virtual place for real-time employee ideas, surveys and insights. This type of tool will keep communication lines open between employees and employers -- no matter where they are.
3. There'll be a lack of teamwork.
Many organizations believe that being in a virtual setting means teamwork will be completely neglected. Some wonder how collaboration can be successful if employees aren’t meeting in the conference room on a daily basis.
Fact: A physical presence in the same location doesn’t necessarily affect the amount of teamwork coworkers can carry out. A well-oiled machine can be powered by teams all around the world who have never met, or rarely meet, in person.
Introduce fun ways to improve teamwork outside of the office. One way to do this is with group chat rooms where employees are encouraged to discuss both professional and personal matters. Teams that need to brainstorm creative ideas also can participate in once-a-month video chats to drum up new ideas and bond over their strategies.
4. Organizing deadlines will be difficult.
Keeping track of and updating deadlines is too difficult with workplace flexibility -- or so employers believe. Progress meetings are what keep the business running, and flexibility will prevent these from occurring, right?
Fact: Having meetings outside of the office will actually increase employees’ productivity, not reduce it. The previously mentioned FlexJobs survey found that employees surveyed said they appreciated meetings in a flexible work setting more because such meetings tend to be succinct. Shorter meetings, in turn, mean higher productivity for the team.
Open the lines of communication by encouraging employees to ask questions at any time to clarify deadline specifications. Also, plan ongoing virtual one-on-one meetings with the goal of clearing up any issues that have presented themselves over the past week or month.
5. Home office set-up will be costly.
Companies dread the thought of extra office fees to get their employees set up with a home office. They feel it’s cheaper for employees to come into the office where equipment has already been purchased.
Fact: Think about the rent/mortgage at a physical office, the amount of electricity used and even the cost of free coffee in the lounge from year to year. Giving employees the flexibility of having a home office could save both parties money.
If making flexibility an option every day isn’t possible for an organization, consider offering a few days a week or month for employees to work from their home office.