IgniteTech is proud to present “Work from Home Reimagined,” a four-part series on the future of remote work. In our fourth and final installment, we discuss how organizations can take advantage of the increased flexibility options available from remote work to keep employees motivated and productive. Be sure to check out Part 1: Communications, Part 2: Accountability and Part 3: Talent as well!

Over the past year and a half, the purpose of remote work has changed rapidly for many organizations: What was an emergency response measure is now simply the “new normal” for some and an added capability for others.

At this point, work from home, whether with a fully remote setup or in coordination with a physical space, isn’t just an alternative way to do business — it expands the options available to employees and employers. One of the key advantages employees have identified during this time is an increase in autonomy and flexibility.

In fact, according to Buffer’s 2021 State of Remote Work survey, the ability to set a flexible schedule was seen as the single largest advantage of remote work, with about a third of respondents selecting it as their top choice. Another quarter cited the ability to work from anywhere as their top perk, a concept that goes hand in hand with work flexibility.     

Whether it’s offering employees day-to-day options for where they work, or fundamentally reconsidering how employees’ career paths are defined, adding flexibility can help keep employees mentally fresh, motivated and working for your company longer. Here are how some of the world’s top organizations are doing it:

Work scheduling on employee terms

Scheduling expectations in many sectors used to be relatively simple: Clock in around eight or nine in the morning, punch out after five. While the rigid 9-5 model was already undergoing a rethink before the start of the pandemic, change has truly been in the air in the past year and a half.

In a McKinsey interview with Leena Nair, the chief human resources officer at Unilever, Nair describes the traditional 40-hour work schedule as “broken.” Rather than saying that this style of scheduling is completely outdated, Nair believes that it should no longer be the assumed default, as there are other options that can make sense for employees and employers alike. 

While other factors, such as finding the right pay and benefits model, need to be taken into consideration, remote work has greatly aided in the transition to flexible scheduling. With many teams successfully working across time zones, an employee shifting hours to accommodate other parts of their life — like dropping their kids off at daycare — may now be a non-issue.

In addition to supporting the work-life balance of employees, added flexibility may help your company’s diversity and inclusion initiatives. According to Work Design Magazine, adding flexible hours or a fully remote option can make jobs attainable for minorities, who studies show are on average more likely to live further away from their jobs

Taking full advantage of flexible hours will probably mean making some adjustments to your current processes and technology. To get the balance right, be sure to set clear expectations and develop a plan for reporting hours and tasks completed. The correct cloud-based tech solution can help to ensure that everyone on your team is on the same page.

Resource allocation for retention & growth

In addition to changes in day-to-day processes, permanently shifting to a remote or hybrid model can open up new career paths for employees — and help with retention. Employers can increase organizational agility by encouraging employees to collaborate with and work outside of their usual departments. Breaking down these barriers can offer employees new options to grow within your organization, even if they aren’t feeling fulfilled in their current role. 

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the past year has seen a noticeable shift toward emphasizing internal mobility at many organizations. One of the key ways companies are doing this is by implementing more project-based work that involves inter-department collaboration. Doing so allows employees to stay mentally fresh and see how their skills could translate to a different part of the company. 

Part of making inter-department crossover and collaboration possible is ensuring that workers across the board are using many of the same software solutions. Consider paring down the number of solutions you’re using, if possible, and ensure processes like inter-business communications are being handled with one platform organization-wide. Your software should ideally be based in the cloud, so that workers can easily access tools no matter where they’re located.

 

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