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Great strides have been made in work flexibility over the last decade. Every year, an increasing number of employees are given the opportunity to work outside a traditional office, set a more fluid schedule or change how and when they work in some other way to accommodate personal responsibilities and preferences.
Still, though nearly 9 million Americans telecommute to work at least half the time, it’s estimated that more than half the total workforce currently hold jobs that could be completed remotely. Despite research that shows telecommuters to be generally happier, more engaged and more productive than their onsite counterparts, corporate acceptance of work flexibility is still in its infancy. However, there are ways to advance the cause and gain the support of decision makers in your organization.
Collect relevant data
Numbers don’t lie, so when you make your case for introducing or expanding work flexibility in your organization, be sure to have data to back up your pitch. Include stats that highlight how your organization would benefit from work-flex policies:
Employee satisfaction and tenure. Flexible work policies signal a company’s trust and confidence in its employees, regardless of where or when they work. Flexibility combined with trust can increase satisfaction and loyalty and facilitate the retention of valuable employees.
Improving retention minimizes the expenses associated with recruiting, hiring and training new employees. In addition, high turnover also means losing revenue when productivity dips. The longer employees stay with an organization, the more valuable they become in terms of knowledge, productivity and work quality.
Client satisfaction. Organizations that maintain a consistent workforce are better equipped to address and meet the needs of customers or clients. High employee turnover may lead to high client turnover if a lack of experience impairs client relations.
Make it universal
Recommend a policy that is inclusive. From the outset, flexible work options have been an accommodation, often for working mothers with young children. However, the future of flex-work should be focused on designing neutral programs that make flexibility the default rather than a privilege. Outline a program that is gender neutral and focuses on the work, not the reason. In doing so, you eliminate friction and dissatisfaction among employees who may feel resentment for not being allowed the same perks.
Point out the obvious
People already work flexibly and remotely, even if it’s not official, though this may be more prevalent in some organizations or professions than others. Employees check email before bed or take a project home to finish over a weekend. Those who tend to work independently may work remotely more often than others (think “knowledge workers”), but even professionals who work in teams (e.g., marketing, advertising, public relations) have tasks that can be completed off-site. Making it official with a formal work-flex policy establishes an organization’s commitment to its employees and their success.
Acknowledge and accept millennial influence
Millennials are now the biggest generation in the workforce. Both male and female millennials say they want full, meaningful lives and careers. Millennials are now old enough to be assuming managerial and senior-level roles, so they will be the ones to push flexible work forward and dictate the ways technology will be used in the workplace.
A recent FlexJobs survey found that 84% of millennials want more work-life balance, 85% want to telecommute 100% of the time and 54% want to work a flexible or alternative schedule. Organizations are going to find that millennials will have an increasingly influential impact on how organizations approach work and the attitudes that govern how employee performance and productivity are measured.
Cherry pick the best of the best
In today’s fiercely competitive business world, it is imperative for organizations to attract top recruits who can help move a company forward; a formal work-flex policy can improve an organization’s recruitment efforts. Work flexibility, including remote work opportunities, allows for a borderless applicant search by tapping resources beyond city, state and national limits. A work-flex policy puts an organization’s recruitment efforts on a global stage and signals to applicants that it truly values and embraces the non-traditional options today’s job seekers prefer.
Getting an organization’s decision makers on board is just the first step. Hammering out a functional but flexible set of guidelines will require considerable time, communication and trial and error, but ultimately, it will be a win-win for the organization and its employees.
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Stacy LeFevre writes about work-from-home opportunities, current events and anything else she finds interesting or frustrating for Onlinesurveysbyajbc.com, the online arm of A. J. Baron Communications.
A J Baron Communications has been in business since 1994. Over the last two decades, AJBC has evolved from providing virtual support services to small businesses and independent contractors to developing and executing internal research projects for companies of all sizes. AJBC also consults with organizations interested in starting or improving a telecommuting program and consumers seeking traditional work-from-home employment or legitimate paid survey opportunities. For more information about AJBC or work-from-home opportunities, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest or learn more here.
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