Employees are constantly switched on—they’re connected to every technology type—cloud, video, mobile, and social. Working with a constant flow of information and connection is at an all-time high, and employees in turn now expect their workplaces to be digital and equally connected.
The demand for innovative technology is largely driven by a growing expectation of flexibility and better work-life balance. However, according to recent research from MYOB, as referenced in Inside Small Business, employers are not yet stepping up to the plate when it comes to offering their employees flexibility at work.
The research revealed that only 54% of small and medium enterprises are offering flexible working arrangements, despite employees being more connected than ever. Interesting, given that Australian business owners rank flexibility at work a top priority, and it is often the reason they decide to start their own business in the first place. So what benefit does workplace flexibility bring for employees and their employers when implemented?
Flexible Working Means Better Business
As outlined in the most recent research from The Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, benefits to flexible working are significant. Improved output through quieter work spaces, greater client reach, better services due to a presence in more locations, and increased personal growth through self-management and communication with teams are just some.
A business which doesn’t adapt to the changing lifestyle needs of its employees risks hurting its name among the employment market through poor word of mouth. Whether its flexible hours, compressed working weeks, telecommuting, part-time work or job sharing, flexibility has become an important criterion when job searching. From a business perspective, maintaining talented staff with the right skills is important. When a workplace offers flexible practices, employees feel valued and will often be more likely to stick around.
The Way Forward for Employers
While investment in a vibrant office space and employee perks are important, the simplest way to promote flexibility in the workplace is through investing in innovative technology. Cloud-based video conferencing is one way to enable this. The availability of cloud video technology and other collaboration tools has meant traditional barriers are no longer blocking employees from working remotely and flexibly.
Another way for employees to ensure they’re feeling prepared for flexible working is through proactive preparation. It can be as simple as sitting down with your teams and chatting through any potential challenges with the new arrangement, and then brainstorming ways to overcome these issues. Doing so will allow the team to identify and agree upon the channels of communication the team will use, as well as discuss potential scenarios of conflict between the work and the new arrangement.
Based upon in-depth research, it is clear that the benefits of flexible working outweigh the potential costs. Increased job satisfaction simply through knowing employees have the option to change their routine based on their needs means increased productivity and their loyalty to the organisation. A win-win for the business and employee.