For years now, employees have made it clear that flexibility in the workplace matters. Case in point: in 2022, tens of millions of employees in the US quit their jobs during the Great Resignation. One of the top reasons they left? Lack of flexibility. A flexible workplace helps drive productivity—a win for both employees and businesses—and plays an important role in creating a great onsite experience. Not to mention, establishing a flexible workplace is one of the top ways employers can increase retention. Below we’ll talk about other benefits of flexibility in the workplace and show you how you can create a more flexible space for employees. Let’s get to it.
What is flexibility in the workplace?
Unlike a traditional work environment, which limits employees to working at their desks all day, a flexible workplace enables them to choose where, how, and with whom they work on site. As a result, they’re more efficient, productive, and engaged. As you’ll learn below, flexibility in the workplace is possible with the right tools, technology, and policies.Note: in this post we’ll cover flexibility in the workplace. Looking to learn about flexible working models (e.g., hybrid work)? Check out our Ultimate guide to flexible work, which deals with when folks work onsite versus remotely.
The benefits of flexibility in the workplace
Flexibility offers employees and businesses plenty of benefits. Below we’ll go over a few benefits and include some examples of flexibility in the workplace to bring it to life.
1. Flexibility supports efficiency
Employees are more efficient when they can move from one task to the next without getting distracted or wasting time looking for somewhere to work. With workplace tools that support flexible work, you can reduce these issues and add some flow to people’s workday. For example, you can empower employees with hot desk and meeting room booking tools, which enable them to easily reserve a spot to do their best work. Another upside to this technology is that you can gain data-driven insight into how folks use the workplace, so you can optimize the space to work best for your team.
2. Flexibility drives productivity
Along the same lines, a flexible workplace offers employees different types of space so they can choose the best one for the task at hand. If the buzz in the office is too loud for heads-down work, no problem. They can book a pod or quiet space in another area of the workplace. If they need to call an impromptu team huddle, easy solve. They can reserve a meeting room equipped with conferencing technology to include remote coworkers. More options, less distraction, more productivity.
3. Flexibility enables creative problem solving
A flexible workplace can inspire creative thinking and innovative problem solving. Some resources employees might draw on to spark creativity include easy-to-move furniture, digital whiteboards, adjustable lighting, and conferencing technology. A flexible workplace should also have many types of spaces, from quiet areas to social zones, to encourage creativity in all forms.
4. Flexibility helps build a preferred workplace experience
A flexible workplace gives folks what they need to work how they prefer. As a result, employees have a great workplace experience that wins against remote working options. Plus, when folks come to work onsite, employers make the most of costly real estate investments.
4 ways to build more flexibility in the workplace
Now that you know what flexibility in the workplace is and some of its benefits, let’s dive into a few ways you can make your space more flexible for employees.
1. Adopt an iterative approach
Creating a flexible workplace is a process of constant evolution. Taking an iterative approach will help you and your team align on your goals and take the steps you need to take to accomplish them.
Try this: Create a list of changes you want to make to your workplace so it’s more flexible for employees. Note whether each task is “urgent,” “important,” or both. Then, rank them in order of importance, starting with the tasks that are both urgent and important. Prioritize these tasks before diving into the rest.
2. Balance fun and function
Nothing screams rigid like a workplace that only focuses on work. A flexible workplace has room for function and fun. To create true flexibility in the workplace, your space should enable employees to move seamlessly between both kinds of spaces.
Try this: Review your workplace analytics to understand how employees use your space and then make improvements. For example, if you notice that collaboration and social spaces are popular, consider creating more of that kind of space.
3. Establish workplace policies
Your workplace will only be flexible if folks know how to use it. Think of your favorite board game. Without rules to follow, it’s just a bit of cardboard and some plastic pieces. Once you learn to play the game, it becomes enjoyable. The same is true for the workplace. When folks understand the workplace policies, things will operate smoothly and folks can enjoy being onsite.
Try this: Take a look at your current workplace policies. Do they support a flexible workplace experience? Below we’ve listed some policy categories you might consider adding or updating.
- Hybrid work (if applicable): This policy should outline what your company expects of its employees around hybrid work. It should answer: Who is eligible? When should employees be on site? Where can employees learn more?
- Meeting room usage: This policy should offer folks a guide to meeting room etiquette. It should include meeting room booking tools employees should use, rules for booking a room, and best practices for using the space.
- Desk usage: This policy should demonstrate best practices for booking desks. It should cover desk booking tools employees should use and best practices for desk usage and desk sharing etiquette.
- Onsite visitors: This policy should clarify who has permission to invite workplace visitors, what types of visitors are welcome (i.e. job candidates, vendors, customers, etc.), visitor rules and procedures, and who is not allowed into the workplace.
4. Empower your team and employees with the right tools
Technology plays a huge role in supporting flexibility in the workplace. With the help of different workplace tools, employees can reserve a spot onsite, see when their coworkers plan to go into work, and book the space they need to get work done. Plus, your team can glean insights from important metrics, including data on space usage, employee attendance, and visitor foot traffic.
Try this: Look for a suite of tools that comes together in a single workplace platform. This means you’ll get all of that data from above in the same place. By consolidating your data, you can easily spot workplace trends and create more flexibility in the workplace.
—Building a flexible workplace takes planning, patience, and the right tools. It may not be easy, but the payoff is huge. When folks have flexibility in the workplace, they’re more efficient, productive, and happier at work. So, use this post as a guide to building a more flexible workplace. You’ll not only spark some joy in people’s days, you’ll directly impact your business’s bottom line.