A flexible work environment is an increasingly common perk that companies are using to attract talented workers. Flexible or shorter working hours, for example, is a common type of flexible job. Using core hours is one way to accomplish this. The premise of core hours is that employees must be present only during a set number of "core hours". For remote companies, being present could mean being available online for collaboration or for phone calls. For companies with an office, core hours are typically when all workers are present in the office. RingPartner, for example, has core hours between 10am and 3pm daily, while some companies have core hours only during certain days per week. The key is to empower and trust your people and clearly define the policy and expectations. Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs, advises "The key is communication about the hours, the expectations, and the goals. No matter what flexible work program a company devises, there needs to be structure behind it for it to succeed."
Remote working is another incredibly popular form of flexible working that has recently grown in prominence. According to a 2019 report produced by Owl Labs, "42% of remote workers plan to work remotely more frequently than they currently do in the next 5 years, and that more than half of on-site workers want to start working remotely." According to a study by Condeco, "43% of US employers said they plan to allow their employees to have more remote working opportunities in the next year. Only 9% said they plan to offer less." Remote working is a very big trend in the way people work. It allows more flexibility in the way people work and leads to happier and more engaged employees. According the study by Owl Labs, "Remote workers are happier at work than non-remote workers. While 71% of remote workers said that they are happy in their job, only 55% of on-site workers said that they are happy in their job."
What is a flexible job?
A flexible job is just what it sounds like - a job that is flexible! There are many types of flexible jobs. The most common types of flexibility are jobs with the possibility of reduced hours, jobs with flexible hours, and remote working jobs. Many positions are open to negotiation on the number of hours worked per week and, depending on the position, the shorter work week may come with a proportional reduction in pay. Other companies work in flexible environments which measure output as opposed to hours worked. As mentioned, core hours is an effective program that enables employees to work at the time that works best for them while committing to being available during agreed upon "core hours". Another effective program is the Results-Only Work Environment which does not measure hours worked at all and focused entirely on output and productivity.
Ways to offer a flexible working environment
Because a flexible job is a loose term which indicates that a job is flexible in some way, when writing job listing, it is important to clearly state the kind of flexibility the job offers:
Reduced Working Hours
One way a flexible job perk may be interpreted is that the job offers flexibility in the number of hours worked per week. Shorter working hours are becoming more common with some companies offering shorter work week to all of its staff. Wildbit, for instance, offers a 4-day work week, while Basecamp and Seer offer shortened summer hours. It is also common for companies to negotiate shorter work weeks on a conditional basis with its employees.
Core hours is a program that asks employees to be present physically or digitally some number of set hours per day or week. For example a company's core hours might be 11am to 3pm daily. Employees should be available during these core hours - whether present at the office or online and available to chat and collaborate in a remote environment. Working time outside of these hours is expected but the employee is empowered and trusted to accomplish their tasks and goals in the time that works for them.
Results Oriented Workplace
A results oriented work environment does not measure its employees hours worked at all. Every employee is given complete autonomy and accountability for their work. Instead of measuring hours worked, only the productivity and output is measured. Every worker is responsible for doing what is necessary to accomplish their work. In this environment, measuring productivity is very important.
In a remote working environment, employees can work from anywhere they wish as long as they have the ability to communicate and accomplish their work. Generally, this means that decent internet access is necessary. Some companies work entirely remotely with no office at all. Other companies have a headquarters but offer remote positions to some of their workers. Some positions are restricted to a particular country while other companies work with people all over the world. If you're hiring remote workers, be sure to specify which regions, if any, the position is restricted to.
Unlimited Time Off
A recent trend is offering unlimited time off to employees. This empowers employees to recognize they need rest and take time off when needed. Companies will generally save some time and money on administrative costs and there may be less of a rush at the end of the year to spend vacation days. However, depending on how the policy is implemented, it may encourage employees to take less time off which can lead to burnout. For this reason, it is common for companies to offer unlimited vacation days with a mandatory minimum.
Benefits of offering flexible work arrangements
Offering flexible schedules has many benefits. Flexible work arrangements will help attract and retain the best employees. Bill Gates has recently stated the importance of offering flexible jobs: "The competition to hire the best will increase in the years ahead. Companies that give extra flexibility to their employees will have the edge in this area." People who have the flexibility to work less or when it suits them are happier and more engaged in the workplace. Not only that, but these people are also healthier. People who have flexible jobs are able to exercise more and stay healthier. Not only are healthier employees more effective; even a small amount of consistent weekly exercise can increase a person's lifespan by several years.
Flexible work arrangements also expand your hiring pool to include those who might otherwise not be available to commit to a job position. New parents, those with chronic illness, and people with caring duties all can benefit from jobs with flexible hours. Not only can you provide work to those who might not otherwise have access to it, you also gain access to a larger pool of talented individuals.