Paul Joyce is a founder of a rapidly growing tech start-up, Geckoboard, who encourages employees to work from wherever they want. Do companies who offer flexible hours or flexible work locations grow faster than the ones with in-office work only?
Recent studies suggest that in fact they do, and so does the fast expansion of flexible modern start-ups like Geckoboard.
“I think being flexible and respectful that people have lives outside of work makes it easier to attract and retain great people. When you treat people like adults that’s what you get.”
Paul Joyce, the founder of Geckoboard for Virgin.com
So, how does this work? There are several ways in which flexible hours can substantially benefit your business and everyone involved.
Let’s start with …
Decentralizing business operations in time and space
Remote working, dislocated offices and international teams have become a regular part of almost any business. One of the reasons for this happening are the time zone differences, something that online technology alone can’t solve.
With flexible hours you can:
- Schedule work across longer portions of the day
- Extend operational hours for departments such as international customer service
- Have a continuity of work in uncertain conditions
And say there’s a flood and the internet service in you company is out for the whole day. If your employees work from remote locations, that’s no reason for interrupting the daily business operations. If everyone sits in their offices without the connection though… Well, they’ve clocked-in, but the work is not getting done.
Recruiting highly qualified employees …
You have probably noticed the one thing that isn’t getting any easier – attracting and recruiting talented and qualified employees.
Due to the skills shortage and the world of many opportunities, companies are struggling to attract and retain talented individuals. Especially companies who cannot afford to compete by increasing salaries. But, no need to panic here, research shows that after salary, flexible hours are the second most wanted thing in the perfect job description. In fact, when asked whether they’d rather have a flexible work environment or a salary increase, professionals often choose flexible hours.
By offering a non-traditional work schedule with flexible hours you’ll be able to find and retain competent people who are closed off to traditional 9-to-5 schedules: parents, retired specialists, candidates with disabilities and anyone who has additional life commitments or interests.
Not to mention that with the possibility of remote work, you will no longer have to recruit employees within a specific location radius. This way you get access to a much wider talent pool, regardless of location, not being restricted by commuting time.
Family or career?
“The big choice” is having big effects on how many women we see in leadership. More women could and would have a high-level job, but they also want to spend time with their families. So the lack of women on managerial positions is not just due to gender stereotypes, but also because senior level women have stepped back to raise kids. Flexible hours are the means to joining both.
Hiring flex candidates can create a better gender ratio within your company, keep senior women in the positions they’ve earned and attract top-performing candidates to your company.
… and making sure they stay.
When you’ve already got yourself a team of really talented employees, you want to make sure they stick around.
Flexible hours will:
- improve retention,
- reduce turnover of the staff,
- and lower the hiring costs.
Keeping your employees healthy, happy and satisfied …
We’ve all said it at some point: »I would stretch my back, but I don’t have time in the morning«, »I’d taken that class, but at that time I’m usually still stuck in traffic«, »I should eat better, but I can’t find time to cook.«
Everybody will find something in their life that a normal work schedule has prevented them from doing. Lack of healthy habits and high levels of stress often arise from the lack of time and energy to take care of ourselves.
This of course results in serious health issues: stress takes a toll on our heart, blood pressure and a good night’s sleep, employees are dealing with fatigue and disengagement. Hello employee absenteeism, presenteeism and underproductivity, goodbye positive work attitude and growth! As Sarah Landrum puts it in Women 2.0: »Strict hours are bad for business because they’re bad for employees«.
With flexible hours, this can change. There are indeed no less than 24 hours in every day. It’s probably not just about not having enough time, but also about not spending it optimally.
Wouldn’t it be great if instead of commuting for two hours every day your employees could spend this time exercising or cooking a meal? Maybe spending this time with their families? Getting enough sleep? Or even get some work done.
With positive work attitude and some flexibility in how, when and when they work, you will empower your employees to structure their work and personal lives according to their needs, gain more control and be able to plan their time and commitments more efficiently.
… with various employee benefits of flexible hours …
Flexible schedules focuse on a proper work/life balance and improving employee health and wellness:
- it can aid in preventing health issues before they happen with covering the basics: good night sleep, better nutrition, relaxation and exercise.
- reduces employee absenteeisem, burnout and tardiness.
- promotes positive work attitude.
- improves overall mental health, especially for the individuals who deal with mental health issues on daily basis. Flexible working means that they can take time off to care for themselves without the risk of being labeled, judged, or even losing a job.
- reduces presenteeisem. The colleague who caught a cold is better off working remotely from his bed than sneezing around the office. He will recover better and faster and still stay on top of his workload.
- allows people to work when they feel fresh, enjoy working and get most things accomplished (for example morning person vs. night person). Different ways of working suit different people.
… will skyrocket creativity, employee engagement and productivity.
Because when ‘working’ is about more than just ‘showing up’, things get done. When the employer’s focus is on the work getting done instead on the employee’s presence in the office, the employee can focus on meeting deadlines and producing good work in the most efficient manner possible – not just watching the clock tick the seconds away until it’s time to clock-out.
What do years of research say about to-do lists dictating employee’s day rather than their required time in the office?
- The employee morale, engagement, focus and commitment to the organization increase with flexible hours, which leads to higher personal responsibility and productivity.
- Not all of the successful individuals have an ‘outgoing team player’ personality, some favor working on their own in quiet surroundings over brainstorming in teams. Introverts will be a lot happier and accomplish much more working from home.
- Goodbye stress, hello creativity, hello fresh ideas and growth opportunities! Let your valuable employees complete tasks on their own terms and find out what else they are capable of.
- Higher personal control and responsibility appeals to the entrepreneurial spirit of your employees and positive work attitude. Expect even more fresh ideas from their side!
- Fewer distractions and disruptions will get stuff done. Seeing yet another video of cute puppies in the office will definitely not raise the productivity.
Flexible hours will reduce costs…
For the employer and for the employee. Another win-win with the flexible hours! Actually, agility in staff hours and locations can cut workforce costs by as much as 13%.
We’ve already stated how flexible hours reduce costs through the following:
- Recruiting highly capable creative employees is easier even with somewhat lower paychecks
- Higher staff retention and no need for replacing the employees
- Decreasing employee absenteeism and
- Higher employee productivity.
But there’s more hidden costs. Consider you decide for a compressed work week or enable all employees to work remotely on a certain day every week. If you shut down the entire office for one day per week, on that day you have no electricity or water costs, no cost with coffee, tea, paper towels, soap … Small cost can really add up at the end of the year.
… reduce traffic and commute time …
If you decide for flexible hours, you can schedule the work throughout the whole day – some employees will come in the morning, some in the evening and you could make better use of your workplace facilities – you may reduce your real estate costs by needing a smaller office space, less furniture and less equipment, because your employees won’t be needing it everyone at the same time. You can even start renting fewer parking spots! Employees will love you for avoiding stressful rush-hours on the road. You’d be amazed at how much faster a commute can be if you need to be in the office at 9:00 instead of 8:00.
Last but not least – the transport costs. People spend hours travelling to work, caught in endless traffic, which is not only super stressful, but also requires huge amounts of money spent on fuel or public transport. It’s usually your employees who pay for all the stress, but you are probably the one buying all the gas.
… and lower company’s carbon footprint!
Just imagine the global sum effect of all these fuel emissions and the huge impact it has on the environment. On average, each person drives approximately 12.000 miles annually. Each commuter taken off the road matters.
Especially now that we have the resources and knowledge available to act more ecologically conscious and to work in more sustainable ways, by commuting less and causing less pollution.
With fewer cars to fuel, fewer buildings to maintain and fewer office supplies to dispose, flexible hours will make your company environmentally friendly and lower your carbon footprint.
So, here’s a method to fuel your growth instead of bunch of cars! Stay tuned to find out how to address the doubts you still might be having about flexible hours!
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