Is Flexibility at Work Really What you Need?

What does flexibility at work mean? It all depends on your employees, and figuring it out is more complex than you think. Help is just a read away!

Work environment

Christine Chartrand

VP Consulting Services

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Are you the type of person that embraces flexibility at work, or are you more at ease in a stable environment where a pre-established framework is put into place? What about your organization? Are you offering a culture that enables your workforce to think outside the box, to tap into their creative side, and are you open to flexible working arrangements? Better yet, do your employees NEED these types of work environments to perform better?

So many questions! But don’t feel overwhelmed, the answers are but a simple read away! Together we will figure out what flexibility at work looks like and whether or not your human capital will feel motivated because of it.


Flexibility at work: Evaluate their innate potential

How I see it, there are several different ways your organization can offer flexibility at work to your employees. For the first example, it is imperative that you evaluate the extent to which they possess an openness to something different, to new ideas as well as a preference for evolving in new situations and trying different approaches. You need to understand how natural it is for them to exchange innovative ideas, adapt to change, or even seek or provoke change.

Employees that prove to be extremely high in these areas will likely show their natural talents and be motivated when offered the opportunity to maneuver in situations that are less defined, where they can adapt their approaches and work methods to each context as well as have more independence in the way they tackle projects and make decisions.

Flexibility in this case is having an openness to ideas, creativity and a changing environment. Your flexible and adaptable employees will feel less natural when given a recipe and when there are fixed, traditional ways of working.


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More freedom when it comes to time and schedule

Another way your organization may offer flexibility at work is with flexible work arrangements. Your company is likely to be filled with employees that have children and families to take care of. They may be struggling with daycare drop-offs and pick-ups and, what seems to be a never-ending array of colds and flus that their kids are attracting year round. They may be seeking more work-life balance!

Or maybe it’s commuting that’s an issue. The bus or train is always running late, has minimal hours of operation, or traffic is causing them to lose time (or their minds!) otherwise spent at work. The option of telecommuting, working longer stretches when at the office, or compressed hours is just the type of flexibility at work they are looking for.

What about employees that have a less conventional outlook on work schedules? This whole idea of punching in at 9 and punching out at 5 business may seem rigid for the generation Y workforce. And with technology today, you don’t always have to be physically present at work to be productive.


What does flexibility at work mean to your employees?

When it comes down to it, flexibility at work is about the employer and employee making mutually beneficial adjustments on WHERE work is to be performed, WHEN it should be carried out and HOW it will be achieved. If being creative and thinking outside the box is what’s going to keep your employees engaged, then you have to decide if you can offer them such environments.

Uncovering if they are more adaptable or traditional in their thinking and approaches will also save you a lot of time and energy when delegating, supervising and giving direction.

So how do you know? The interview process and previous experiences can shed some light but may only be the tip of the iceberg.

But to truly detect their natural reflexes, you will need to use an assessment tool that will go beyond what’s readily on paper or in front of you. Better yet, you can even compare these results to your organizational culture, existing team and job position in order to see the goodness of fit.


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Is flexibility at work threatening?

You’re probably asking yourself, threatening to who? To the employer? Employee? Well the answer is a bit of both.

Some employers may see flexibility at work as a loss of control or supervision, or that their workforce will abuse these policies. Of course, these apprehensions can vary depending on where you choose to implement more flexibility, either in HOW they do their work (ex. room for creativity, trying new approaches, openness to change and innovation) or when it comes to work arrangements (ex. flexible hours, telecommuting).

For some of your employees, flexibility in the way a task can be executed may cause them more stress. For instance, you have someone who is very conventional and more at ease when the best practices are already laid out for them, how do you think they will feel with an ambiguous task that does not have a pre-established framework or accurate instructions?

Some might thrive in such a context and show their true innate potential, while others will feel like a fish out of water. You might need a little bit of both in your organization, but it’s up to you to find out what flexibility means to your human capital. And you might be surprised!

Basically, flexibility at work comes in different shapes and sizes. Whether it be flexibility in how you carry out a project, or flexible work arrangements, you need to assess what you can offer your employees, and whether or not they crave it. Understanding their cultural fit and need for an adaptable working environment can save you a lot of time and energy when delegating, motivating and supervising.

So let your inner flexibility emerge and see how an employee assessment can benefit your organization!

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