The holiday season is upon us, and people are starting to focus on the things that really matter in life – friends and family. For many, this is a season of change, renewal, reinvigorated motivations, and a sense of direction. Many people start thinking about New Year’s resolutions and evaluate their current state of life in a little more detail. Do your employees operate with a good work-life balance? Are they motivated to work because of the quality of life their work provides?
Quality of life is not simply determined by a large salary and good benefits. For many people, particularly those adventure-minded, creatives that are drawn to Utah’s Silicone Slopes, flexibility in the workplace is necessary for ensuring long term commitment and enthusiasm for their company. Employers should recognize and capitalize on workplace flexibility for current and future employees. This is especially important as more Millennials and Generation Z people enter the workforce. Here are three things to consider when creating a flexible (and productive) work environment:
1. Focus on the work product, not the work hours
At the end of the day, do you really care how the work was completed? Do you really care how many hours were spent on each task? For certain industries, or certain projects, you might! It might matter how much time is spent making something to know the true cost of production. However, when it comes to most work environments, particularly in the tech industry, the amount of time taken to complete a project is likely not as important as the quality of work done.
As workers seek better work-life balances, they value employers who care more about their work output than the time they’ve spent sitting in their cube. Some employers, like _____ have thrown out “work hours” completely, focusing on the volume and quality of the work product, rather than dictating the hours in which the work needs to be completed.
Allowing employees to work different shift hours, or changing shift hours to accommodate needs at home is a great way to incentivize those employees to stay with your company for the long run. If a parent is able to get their work done in time to leave early to attend their child’s school function, they’ll be much more motivated to get the work done, than if they are told to stay at their desk until 5 p.m.
For another example, programmers may need large amounts of uninterrupted time to accomplish a certain project. Traditional office environments with set hours may prohibit a programmer from being able to do a good job. It may be better for them to work early mornings, late evenings or even weekends to accomplish their project with fewer interruptions than standard work hours with phones and emails constantly interrupting their work.
2. Create a stimulating environment
Flexible learning environments are all the rage in education today. Though no specific studies have been conducted, there is a growingly popular theory among practitioners that providing a physically flexible learning environment will stimulate and improve a student’s ability to learn and stay focused for longer lengths of time.
The same theory can be applied to the workplace, and in fact, many companies are already adapting to this trend. Adjustable standing desks, exercise ball chairs, bicycle pedals under desks, etc… are starting to make more regular appearances in work spaces. Unique office furniture isn’t the only way to create a stimulating, flexible work environment.
While many companies are moving toward providing employees with mobile devices (laptops, tablets, phones, etc…) many employers are also letting go of the traditional office workplace model. Rather than assign specific offices to employees, many companies are creating more collaborative work spaces. These collaborative spaces may include clusters of workstations (desks with a few necessary supplies) lounge-type meeting spaces, several small conference rooms, and a few “private” offices for use by people needing to work with less distractions, or on sensitive matters requiring privacy. Each space enables a worker to work in a comfortable, or motivating environment to encourage good, productive work.
3. Toss out routines
In the fast pace, technology driven world we live, gone are the days of clocking in and clocking out with the same routine each day. If your work environment still observes these archaic protocols, you’re likely having trouble with employee retention, motivation and focus. Your employees are probably wasting time on their personal devices, or chatting in the breakroom throughout the day as they grow bored or worse yet, don’t have enough work to keep them busy.
Each day should feel fresh, exciting and worthy of an employee’s time. Create an unstructured environment that encourages employees to be creative thinkers and problem solvers, that encourages employees to collaborate on projects, and uses the company’s resources responsibly. A flexible work schedule that includes meetings as needed, rather than at set recurring times shows a company values its employees’ expertise and time. If several programmers are working on a special project, don’t pull them away for the weekly staff meeting. Let them work and keep them updated on any necessary office issues, but call the all staff meetings only when all the staff can and should attend.
Once you begin creating a flexible work environment, you may find that several of these suggestions will start to occur naturally. The more flexibility you can allow for your employees, the better rates of employee retention you’ll have and the better work products you’ll see from your employees. Motivated people create great work. Dedicated people create great work. People who feel valued, and feel their time is well spent at work, create great work.
When you are ready to hire great candidates who will be excited and motivated to work in your flexible work environment, give us a call! We’ll be happy to recruit the best candidates for your company. And if you are looking to hire people that can help change your workplace culture with flexible working options, let us know! We’ll connect you with the professionals you need to take your business to the next level.