Flexibility is a feel-good word. Like innovate or responsive, or efficient. What entrepreneur or manager wouldn’t want their workplace to be flexible, especially in an era we’re constantly reminded depends on it?
When flexibility means letting your employees set their own schedules, coming and going whenever they want, for many employers it takes on a sense of risk. Yet according to a recent Fortune article, more companies are experimenting with flexible schedules and finding that the clock-punching past wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
In case studies presented by a handful of companies and firms, the article suggests that flexible scheduling has increased productivity and profitability and worker retention, especially in organizations that suffered from high turnover rates.
Obviously, this isn’t a cure-all for every business, but it’s definitely something to consider. In the businesses cited, there is a certain client- and project-focused aspect to the companies that made the transition more natural. In any direct service-based industry, obviously certain hours would have to be maintained.
The loose scheduling didn’t turn employees into slackers, however. In fact, a large number of workers at process-outsourcer Solix began coming into the offices early, in order to avoid morning traffic and gain the benefits of going home early to spend time with children coming home from school. The number of hours worked didn’t necessarily decrease, but the allocation of those hours was left up to the staff.
Will flexibility work for your business or team? Answering a few questions may help you make the transition. Do you already trust your employees with heavy responsibilities or financially sensitive tasks? If they currently have your trust, don’t be hesitant to extend it. Do you have a way to assess individual success? Whether it’s sales made, contracts signed, clients gained or simply hours logged, you need to find a reliable metric to ensure that business stays on track.
Start gradually, and see how it goes. If the case studies already done are any indication, you’ll build on the trust your employees feel and gain the productivity that comes with a happy workforce.