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Should Your Business Offer Flexible Work Arrangements Permanently?

When social distancing measures were put in place because of the pandemic, remote work skyrocketed. Many people started working from home for the first time. During this period, both employers and employees saw the benefits of being remote-capable. And now, in 2021, a lot of companies are considering making those flexible work arrangements adopted during COVID permanent.

Should your business do the same? Let’s look at the pros and cons of offering flexible work arrangements and dive into the steps your company can take to ensure remote work supports business goals and a thriving company culture.

What Are Flexible Work Arrangements?

Instead of expecting employees to show up in person every day, with a flexible approach to work, employees have some degree of latitude to shape their schedule. A remote-flexible model can entail almost any type of work arrangement. Here are some possibilities:

  • An option for one or more remote days every week
  • A hybrid model where employees come into the office for certain tasks such as training and meetings
  • Hiring some full-time or part-time remote employees
  • Giving staff complete freedom to set their hours and to work from wherever

By giving employees more freedom over when and where they work, ultimately, you can cultivate a more engaged and productive workforce.

The State of Remote Work in 2021

According to a survey conducted by consulting firm Willis Towers Watson, in early 2021, over half of employees were still working from home, down slightly from 60 percent in 2020 during the height of lockdown. Just under one quarter are still working from anywhere.

Research conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that most executives and employees expect a hybrid workplace to start taking shape later this year. In this hybrid scenario, some amount of remote work and flexibility will persist even after the dangers of COVID are behind us, and most adults are vaccinated.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Shifting to a Flexible Work Model?

The pros of offering flexible work arrangements

Why is flexible work here to stay? The reality is, flexible work arrangements have proved to be a win-win for both employers and employees.

  • According to the PwC research, after a full year of remote work, 83 percent of employers say allowing staff to work from wherever has been a success for their company.
  • 52 percent of executives say average employee productivity has improved.
  • Attracting top talent is easier – 77 percent of employees believe that flexible work arrangements are a major consideration when assessing future job opportunities, and 78 percent of employers say remote work helps them expand their talent pool.
  • Citing less stress, more focus, and a better work-life balance, remote workers also report being 22 percent happier.
  • Giving your employees an option to work from wherever also has practical benefits – a study by Owl Labs found that working remotely saves 40 minutes of commuting time a day.

The cons of a flexible approach to work

On the other hand, allowing employees to work from home doesn’t work for everyone.

  • 20 percent of remote workers struggle with loneliness.
  • Another concern is collaboration. While most work-from-home employees were able to be more productive at individual and managerial tasks, more than half that transitioned to remote saw a decline in productivity for collaborative tasks.
  • A lack of in-person interaction can make tasks such as building relationships with clients and co-workers more challenging.

How to Create a Hybrid Workplace that Works

There are way more pros to offering flexible work arrangements than there are cons. And, all the potential negatives can be solved with technology and a supportive company culture. This makes some form of remote work a smart move for businesses of all sizes.

If you’re considering making at least a partial remote model permanent, here are some tips you can use to ensure using flexible work arrangements are a success for your company and your teams.

  • Set up regular check-ins to keep employees connected. This can help to keep everyone on the same page. It also gives employees the opportunity to interact, so they don’t feel isolated and to ask questions if they need direction on a project.
  • Help your employees set up a comfortable, ergonomic home office space where they can stay focused and work in peace and quiet. You also want to discuss cybersecurity best practices and health and safety when working at home.
  • Design a flexible arrangement that serves your company and your teams – if people need to be in the office for training, client meetings, or specific tasks, have them come in during those times. You may also want to set up a partial remote workweek so employees can still come in and interact with co-workers in person on some days, yet have the freedom to stay at home and stay productive on others.
  • Empower your employees with the right tools. Collaboration and communication are two of the biggest concerns employers have with remote work. To ensure the best experience possible and support productivity, make sure your company is using technology that allows everyone to work efficiently from wherever.

For most small to medium-sized businesses, adopting a unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solution ticks all the boxes.

Easy to implement, secure, and feature-rich, your employees can hold virtual meetings, chat, share files, and more, all from one platform. Explore Intermedia Unite – the all-in-one communications and collaboration solution for SMBs offering flexible work arrangements in the long term.

About Darcy Mekis