What are Your Out-of-the-Box Possibilities for Flexibility in Business and at Work?

Over the last year or so, I’ve regularly engaged in conversations with friends, colleagues and clients about the options available to give employees flexibility at work. More specifically, flexibility with regard to how, where and when employees get their work done.

In my experience, you can’t go wrong when you follow Dan’s Pink’s prescription for employee engagement in his book Drive: mastery, autonomy and purpose. Both as the HR leader in an organization and as an individual employee, the implied trust of autonomy granted and then responsibly and productively used to support the organization’s success – the win-win of a responsible team of adults fully expressed have personally formed my best work experiences.

Certainly, there are schedule and in-person constraints that limit the degree and kind of flexibility that many organizations can offer, e.g. retailers and other customer service organizations; distribution, warehousing and manufacturing businesses; organizations that provide human health and direct-care services; and organizations with strict HIPAA and other confidential data requirements that strictly limit the use of organization data outside of the organization’s location(s). However, even in schedule-dependent organizations, there are opportunities for flexibility:

  • Multiple schedule options on all shifts that meet both employee and organization needs (the talent shortage during Y2K forced this creativity) – the numbers-crunching to create and constantly calibrate multiple schedules requires some initial work – frankly, the more such work and scheduling has been automated, the easier it gets to be flexible;
    • School hours-friendly shifts;
    • 36-hour, 3-day shifts;

You get the picture.

For organizations that can accomplish their work anywhere, the flexibility options are growing, including but not limited to:

  • Organizations that need to keep confidential data onsite: employees can flex their schedules on a daily basis within certain limits and advance notice, as long as required work is completed within the standard workweek and the employees are available if needed for in-person meetings;
  • Some software firms give employees the opportunity to work 1 day a week or more remotely, accomplishing work on shared platforms like Asana, BaseCamp, etc. and keeping in constant touch via communication platforms like Slack (works great for bad-weather travel and business continuity, too);
  • Nonprofits and for-profits alike are saving payroll time by conducting meetings via video / desktop-sharing platforms like Zoom;
  • And anyone who recruits employees (speaking from personal experience as well) can accomplish work efficiently and successfully from any confidential space with a laptop, good high-speed and phone access.

What are your out-of-the-box possibilities for workplace flexibility to continue to build employee engagement and productivity, in business and at work?

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