An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. The opportunity or power to choose between two or more possibilities : the opportunity or power to make a decision. a range of things that can be chosen
How does an employer increase its adaptability and begin to introduce flexibility in the workplace? It’s not just about giving employees the choice to work remotely, though this is one solution. There are many ways to support flexibility and choice, including non-traditional workplace benefits.
Here are some ideas:
1) Allow employees to set their own schedules.
This enables parents to be there for school drop-off or pickup; makes it easier for caregivers to attend doctor appointments; and helps employees manage a chronic condition or undergo regular treatments, such as fertility or chemotherapy. It also allows people to work during the hours when they feel most productive. Our organization has employees all across the U.S., and we rely on this kind of flexibility. Ultimately, it’s beneficial for both the employees and the business.
2) Define synchronous vs. asynchronous work.
Are there ways teams can convene for a few days to hash out projects together—synchronous work—then go back to remote locations to complete the tasks—asynchronous work? Of course, this doesn’t work for all teams, but it’s something to consider.
3) Offer unlimited PTO.
This is a fairly new concept that is gaining in popularity. Unlimited PTO allows employees to take the time they need to recharge and refresh, gain better work-life balance, and even improve engagement through increased employee/employer trust. But to make it work, employees need to feel empowered to actually schedule time off!
4) Let employees choose where they work.
Hybrid, fully remote, or 100% in-person? This is a decision all companies are facing, and how you roll out your policy is essential. Employees are particularly attuned to this element of flexibility, so ask for feedback before making a blanket decision.
5) Consider 4-day workweeks.
It’s an idea that’s gaining some traction here in the U.S. Doing so could lead to better mental health, less stress, and better work-life balance. If you’re concerned about productivity, you could institute a compressed workweek, where employees work the same number of hours, just in a shorter time period.
6) Ensure the physical office allows for flexibility.
During the remote phase of the pandemic, many organizations took time to assess whether their physical workspace style allowed for the kind of flexibility that employees now want. This includes setting aside designated areas for collaboration and connection and quiet areas for focus work. Perhaps it now makes sense to designate “hot desks” for people who want to pop in occasionally, but may not require a dedicated space to themselves.
7) Take stock of caregiving support.
Employees are looking for caregiving support in several ways. These include:
- Paid parental leave for both parents, including those who are adopting and those who experience pregnancy loss
- Caregiving leave
Help finding elder or child care through EAPs
- Onsite daycare centers
- Breast milk shipping services for nursing mothers who travel
- Backup daycare
- Give employees the flexibility to pursue passions.
We touched on this idea earlier, but it bears repeating. Employers should begin to view employee passions not as detractors from work, but as activities that enhance work skills and boost overall employee well-being and engagement. Pursuing passions means employees may be out of the office at various times and employers need to be flexible. Employees also “need to know they shouldn’t feel guilty about leaving work or have to wonder whether doing so will jeopardize performance reviews.”
8) Explore opportunities for sabbaticals or career breaks.
Sabbaticals are more common in academia, but the idea is catching on in corporate America. For example, some companies offer long-term employees four weeks of paid leave to take a break, plan a dream vacation or take time to do something they love. And Google allows employees to spend up to six months working for non-profits on special projects. The flexibility and choice to take extended time off is a great way to combat burnout and increase employee loyalty, especially among senior talent.
9) Hold “no meeting” days.
Many organizations have designated Fridays as “no meeting” days so employees can schedule appointments or get focused work done. This can boost productivity while also giving people autonomy to focus on what they need to do that day.
10) Offer choice and control in work shifts.
What about those who can’t work from home, like healthcare workers, those in retail, shift workers, and manufacturing employees? There are still ways to offer them flexibility. Examples include self-scheduling, shift-swapping, compressed workweeks, part-time work, and job sharing. And if you’re still not sure how to help, just ask! They can provide feedback on what flexibility they need, and help implement programs and policies that can benefit everyone else.