As per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 47 million Americans quit their jobs voluntarily in 2021. The global pandemic partially spurred this unprecedented exodus from the workforce, also called the Great Resignation. People are reluctant to go back to the office. They are reconsidering, reshuffling, and relocating. All of these factors were aggravated because people recognized and acknowledged the benefits of flexible work arrangements imposed on us due to Covid-19.
The Great Resignation is not just a result of the global pandemic. It is also a consequence of the common feeling of being "stuck at work". An increasing number of people have been quitting their jobs since 2009. There was stagnation in 2020 when the initial stage of the Covid-19 outbreak started, but in 2021, the figures shot up again. All because people started to accept flexible work arrangements that offered a healthy work-life balance. Remote work successfully demonstrated life beyond the bricks and mortar of an office complex.
So, flexible work arrangements are not a direct result of Covid-19. Rather, they are a revolution that is increasingly leading our lives for the better. But, what exactly do we mean by a flexible work arrangement? How does it benefit the employee and the employer? Is it really great? Let’s find out in this article!
Flexible work arrangements, as the name suggests, are a form of employment where a strict or traditional work schedule is not religiously followed. Rather, it involves offering employees some leeway to set their own work schedules and giving them flexibility as long as their responsibilities are not hindered. Unlike conventional ways of employment, flexible working arrangements do not cause any obstruction in daily operations. For instance, absenteeism rate reduces in flexible arrangements, which causes less intrusiveness in terms of work and meeting goals.
A flexible work arrangement allows employees to strike a perfect work-life balance. They can choose their work timings (within negotiated boundaries) and even their desired working location as per their convenience.
The underlying component here is "freedom"!
Flexible work arrangements are a boon for most employees and employers! Flexibility in terms of employment is considered a mandate for a compensation package. It is a powerful tool that ensures better employee engagement, employee retention, as well as a better recruitment success rate!
The global pandemic changed the way we have been living our lives. Although partially, it is a tipping point for giving way for flexible work arrangements to become a global phenomenon.
People have realized the peace brought in due to a healthy work-life balance. They have realized they are more productive in a homely setting. Eldercare and child care are also great reasons people are increasingly switching to flexible work arrangements. In fact, many professionals are unwilling to return to the "old ways".
Employers are also embracing the fact that brick-and-mortar office complexes are not necessary to sustain their organizations. They are also choosing flexible schedules over everything else!
Flexible work arrangements is actually an umbrella term that covers different terminologies and types of working conditions depending on the needs of both employers and employees. Let’s move on to discuss eight different types of flexible work arrangements.
Remote work is a flexible work arrangement that allows employees to gain more flexibility in their daily lives and work locations. Instead of the traditional methods of commuting to and from an office, remote working allows employees to choose where they work from.
As per the 2021 Future Workforce Report, almost 40.7 million American working professionals will be working remotely in the coming five years. In fact, even Facebook plans to have 50% of its employees working remotely by 2030.
Remote working does not just save thousands of dollars every year on commuting, clothing, gas, car insurance, etc.; it also allows organizations to diversify and widen their talent pool by hiring the best talent from anywhere in the world.
Defining hybrid working is a bit difficult; it is a type of flexible work arrangement wherein employees can work on-site, off-site, or remotely in different scenarios. Employees get the flexibility of working from different locations, including home, on the go, or in the office. This entirely depends on the objectives, circumstances, as well as personal preferences of the employees.
Truly, hybrid working is one of the most flexible working arrangements of all time, which diminishes the concept of "working at a particular location". It emphasizes the importance of the quality of work employees do rather than where they do it!
Organizations that allow employees to work in a hybrid work setting offer them different benefits to create a much happier working environment. A hard-working and satisfied workforce brings better autonomy over what they do.
A condensed version of working 40 hours every week! A condensed work week is a type of flexible working arrangement that allows employees to start earlier in a work day or finish later in the same work day. For instance, if one works 10 hours daily, Monday through Thursday, they can take a Friday off. They can even cut down on certain hours on any consecutive day to compensate for the extra hours they have put in.
Flextime allows employees to choose their working hours in a non-conventional manner. While employees will be working the same number of hours as others, they will not be working at the same time each day. For instance, if one starts working at 10:00 AM every day and stops at 6:00 PM, someone else could start their work at 7:00 AM on the same day and stop working at 3:00 PM.
A business attendance policy may require everyone to be available at work during certain day hours. For example, all employees should work between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. This way, you can set up a few common hours for priority meetings requiring cross-functional efforts.
Part-time is another flexible work arrangement requiring employees to work fewer than 40 hours weekly. Almost 25.4 million American working professionals were working part-time in 2021. Employers can set up the necessary work hours for the employees working part-time.
Part-time jobs are typically geared toward stay-at-home parents, students, and other populations who cannot work full-time for various reasons. Opting for part-time as a flexible working arrangement allows businesses to lower the cost of hiring part-time, which is excellent for companies with fixed or small budgets. For example, hiring part-time employees entails cost-cutting for overheads like employee benefits, insurance, retirement funds, etc.
Shift work is a flexible work arrangement wherein a typical work day is divided into different shifts and allocated to different employees. Different groups of employees are provided different shift timings to carry out duties during those specific shift hours. The practice is prevalent globally with employers who want to be operational throughout the day, all seven days of the week. Consequently, employees can work different shifts or hours, which are unconventional compared to the typical 9–5 operations.
Job sharing includes splitting one job between two different employees. Although, every single employee in such a flexible work arrangement will be responsible for completing the entire job. Though less common, the work arrangement is actually beneficial in terms of performance and quality of work. It also allows the employees to rest, put their minds at ease, and boost productivity.
Telecommuting is the practice of working from outside the purview of different offices and physical locations. More often than not, this practice means people work from home. However, it can also require people to work from co-working spaces, public libraries, coffee shops, or anywhere else.
For organizations, the primary challenge is to offer their employees access to the right kind of technology needed to carry out their tasks and connect with colleagues. This helps maintain security and improve productivity.
With telecommuting as a flexible work arrangement, organizations prosper with benefits like improved employee morale, retention rate, and a reduction in absenteeism.
Having flexible working arrangements makes it easier for people to meet their personal and professional needs harmoniously. All responsibilities and obligations can be met while maintaining a healthy work-life balance. For instance, under a flexible work arrangement, employees can easily take care of their pets, pick up their children from school, and practice yoga in the morning, while they achieve new heights at work.
This balance enhances one’s chances of being fully satisfied at work and encourages them to perform.
One of the best benefits of flexible working is the opportunity for organizations to hire top talent from across the globe. Not only are the employees willing to work flexibly over getting perks, it even benefits the organization's performance well.
Flexibility ensures that the best employees are attracted to the job, who actually deserve the position but could not apply due to geographical constraints in a traditional setting.
Limiting your talent pool to a narrow geographic area can narrow the chances of hiring excellent candidates. The workforce in a homogenous location is also less diverse. However, with flexible work environments such as remote, organizations end up with the best candidates as they get the opportunity to attract the top talent from across the world.
Flexible work arrangements allow people to have better personal control over their lives. The empowerment arising from a healthy work environment and schedule is stellar.
Having personal control over work life and schedule is an exceptional way to improve employee morale, have better job satisfaction, and have a reduced risk of burnout.
Working flexibility can enhance employee productivity to a great degree. As per a 2019 survey, remote workers are actually working an additional 1.4 business days every month compared to employees working from a physical office.
In a flexible work arrangement, employees can work harder with reduced mental and physical burnout and better control over their lives. Furthermore, according to a study conducted by the US Patent and Trademark Office, employees working with flexibility are 4.4% more productive than those working from offices. This ensures better results for the employees and businesses, where the latter thrive because of increased productivity.
A great benefit of flexible working is that it ensures that companies operate in a pro-green manner. Allowing employees to work from home ensures they minimize their commute to work, reducing their carbon footprint.
In fact, as per HealthLine, when people work flexibly, there is an almost 15% reduction in their carbon footprint. Flexible work arrangements also mean companies have either small or no physical working spaces. This allows them to use fewer resources and reduce their environmental impact.
Employees working from home or flexibly tend to save a lot of money on commuting. It is not just money they are saving but also reducing wasted time! The 1-2 hours spent daily, sometimes more, can be spent on taking care of other important tasks in their personal/professional lives.
Studies indicate that flexible work arrangements can substantially reduce absenteeism. The overall number of leaves and absences tend to decline, whereas job engagement and employee productivity increase.
Organizations with the right resources and vision, offering flexible work arrangements to their employees, are highly likely to maintain a competitive advantage over their competitors in the industry. Organizations can attract and retain the best talent while offering the benefits that employees actually need.
As rapidly as the global workforce changes, so does the demand for flexible work arrangements. Remote working, telecommuting, and other forms of flexible work arrangements are becoming increasingly viable. The professional workforce is growing incredibly aware of their need to achieve a better work-life balance. The key here is to find the right "zone" for implementing the best flexible working arrangements that keep the workforce happy and productive and have positive implications for the quality of work and the organization’s future.
Saumya is a content writer who’s been writing for over five years now. She is responsible for turning complex jargon into simple and beautiful words which everyone can understand. When she's not writing, you'll find her on her couch, annoying her dog, or cooking something in her kitchen!
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