Besides remote work, increased flexibility is probably the biggest workplace change of the COVID-19 era. But what exactly does this mean and what are companies getting it wrong?
“Back then, when we thought about flexibility, it meant you could sometimes work from home,” said Jess PodgajniCEO of a job management platform LLUNAin a Introduced interview. “Since the pandemic hit and the world changed forever, I think we’ve seen that definition of flexibility really expand.
What does it look like now? Flexibility is always about when or where you work, the CEO said — your boss probably doesn’t care if you join a Zoom call from your sister’s house in Boise — but it’s also about perks, benefits and professional development opportunities.
In this expanded view of flexibility, each person’s experience is different, depending on their wants and needs at the time. And those wants and needs could change in six months.
“That’s the challenge from the employer’s perspective — trying to put together a hard and fast definition because it’s so fluid,” Podgajny said. “We really need to think about how flexibility can evolve with our workforce as it evolves.”
Communication is key
As with many things in life, good communication is important, especially if your business is looking to “make flexibility more flexible.”
“It all comes down to listening to your employees,” Podgajny said. “If you’re leading a team, talk to your team: do they feel like they can do what they need to do in life and also do what they need to do at work? The results have yet to come.
The old view that employees should always give 40 hours a week is changing as concepts of flexibility evolve.
“Maybe I do it in 32 [hours]maybe someone else will do it in 50,” she said. “We have to deliver the results based on what our role has defined for us. But ultimately, if you , as a leader, you sit down with your team and say, “What would make it easier for you, what would make it better, what would make you feel more supported?” – you have the ability to really unlock more of your team.
Solutions may include shifting an employee’s work hours, compressing their work week (hi, four-day trend), or even accessing a mentor to help plan their career development.
Back flexibility with structure
Providing employee flexibility doesn’t mean turning your workplace into a Wild West.
“You don’t have to be everything to everyone – it’s chaos,” Podgajny said. “Do what you want. An every man for himself would be overwhelming for any leader trying to implement. Structure really is the key to flexibility. really clear and transparent expectations between employer and employee. It’s also a way to be more inclusive, because you’re saying, “I recognize that you’re not cookie-cutter, I offer you these choices.
When you achieve balance, everyone wins because employees will be able to achieve the desired results in a way that makes them happier, better supported, less burnt out, and more engaged.
Many inflexible policies can be made flexible
Your company, especially if it’s well established, may have workplace policies that stay in place simply because that’s how it’s always been done. And change is difficult.
“There’s usually room for some level of flexibility and choice in every policy that’s been created,” Podgajny said. “If we think of policies more as advice and less as rules, we can start to see more opportunities to say, ‘OK, well, in general, we want people to be in the office three days a week; we’re not going to tell you which days, but you have to line up with your team. ‘”
Even if, in the end, everyone decides to come on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, having the choice can make employees happier.
“There’s something psychological that just gets stronger because you approach it with a more flexible mindset,” she said.
Experiment to find what works
The future of work is about testing and learning, without having all the answers. Think of policy changes as iterations of an ever-evolving experiment.
“Have a discussion about ‘How would you spend your time differently if you could, if you were allowed to do something different with your time, what would that look like?’ Then try to implement that pick or opportunity for your team,” Podgajny said. “Maybe for a few weeks you give everyone the option to reduce their work week to four nine-and-a-half-day workdays, or you connect everyone with a peer mentor on your team. . And you try it and see if it’s an effective and valuable way to pass our time.
“If not, you can try something different, but at least you test, learn and evolve based on your squad.”
Watch the full conversation here: