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The Benefits of Workplace Flexibility

I don’t know about you, but I do not work or focus best in the morning and I am not consistently productive between 9am and 5pm. I had never been so happy in a job as I was with my contract position for an Agri-tech company a few years ago. My schedule was my own. The job was also to create graphics, so that definitely helped. But to be able to determine what my days would look like, either when I woke up, or preplanned a few days in advance? I had never been so not stressed about work. It was a contract position, but having that workplace flexibility allowed me to be far more productive and produce better results when I was on the clock.

Going back to a 9-5 after that… was hard. And it was in an industry that could have allowed for significantly more flexibility than it did.

What is workplace flexibility?

The standard work environment for decades has been Monday through Friday, 9am to 5pm. Workplace flexibility throws that standard out the window and asserts that employees can work whenever, wherever, and however suits their life best, as long as they’re still getting their work done. And meeting or exceeding expectations of their employers, of course. They’re being paid to do a job, after all. But it allows for things like family emergencies, sick kids, appointments, and working remotely.

People are more determined than ever to achieve work-life balance. Where previous generations were all about the hustle and “work hard now to have a cushy life later”, the generations that are either just entering the workforce or have been in it for a decade or three now no longer see retirement as the goal. Not entirely, anyway. Why should you give your best years to someone else so that you can finally start enjoying life when you’re in your 60s or 70s? You may not be able to get around as easily then. You may not enjoy doing the things you currently aspire to do. But also… none of us are actually convinced that we even will be able to retire. So we’re prioritizing enjoying life now.

I am also speaking from the perspective of a millennial American woman watching the retirement age and cost of living rise while wages stagnate.

Let’s get into it!

What are some of the perks of workplace flexibility?

Increased Productivity

When people are able to have more autonomy over their work schedules, they will sit down and work when they can focus best. They’ll get into their flow state where their minds zero in on the task at hand. That may not be a set 8-hour timeframe in the middle of the day. Maybe someone works really well from 8-10am and then needs to go work out or run some errands. And then they log back on in the afternoon and are ready to tackle the rest of their work.

In the office, when people need a break, they wander. They may want to chat with someone about the latest episode of some tv show. But the person they want to talk to is in the middle of their flow state and now they’re being pulled out of it to talk about something completely unrelated. Their progress just came to a screeching halt and it’s going to take a bit to get back into the thought process of whatever they were doing. When granted the freedom to work from anywhere, someone may work best at home. Someone else may work best in a coffee shop, or at a library.

Being in an environment that promotes focus for a person will increase their productivity and quality of work.

Decreased stress

The vast majority of people do not actually like being told what to do and/or how to spend their time. Personally, I don’t mind being given tasks, and even the priority of those tasks, but I do not like being told when to do it. I especially do not like being told how to do my job. (I do actually like having deadlines, but I am a whole-ass adult and I can manage my time, thanks.)

But we do it because we work for our employers and they sign our paychecks. When people are granted the freedom to choose when and where they work, it means that they’re able to give attention to other aspects of their lives, as well. They are able to pour into their own cup, so that they may pour into others – “work” here, counts as “other.” Because they’re able to do things other than work during the day (at a time that they may not focus as well on work), they have less to do at home after work.

Getting little things done periodically throughout the day, between work bursts? It sets my mind at ease. At the end of the day, everything that needs to be done is done, so I’m able to just relax and enjoy my evening. Maybe go for a walk. The time is mine to do with as I please.

Not to mention, breaking up the workload during the day with other things like cooking a meal or playing with my birds and/or child? That allows me to get away from being so deep into my work, that I may think of new ideas to solve my problem.

Remember, you’re human first. You do not exist solely to work. Your value does not lie in how much money you make.

Higher job satisfaction & employee retention

Workplace flexibility is one of the most sought after benefits right now. This goes back to the desire for more work-life balance and quality of life perks. Working a job where the boss(es) trust their people to get their work done to a high quality tells those employees that they are trusted and valued. People who feel trusted and valued are more likely to want to go above and beyond, increasing productivity and work quality (perk 1).

I keep seeing so many examples of companies expecting their employees to go above and beyond, but they don’t offer anything to inspire their employees to do so. And I’m just trying to wrap my head around why these companies expect their employees to be satisfied with what they provide, when they are not satisfied with what they pay their employees to do.

Feeling respected and like a whole entire human person at a company is, unfortunately, too rare. Some companies are paving the way and leading with empathy and they know that they would not be anywhere without their employees. So they pay them accordingly and offer everything that they can as a benefit. But there are still far too many companies that look at their employees and only see dollar signs as they think of the fastest way to make money off of their labor.

This leads to the employee being burnt out and resentful. They’ll leave the second a better opportunity presents itself. So a new employee is hired. Same thing happens and the new employee leaves. And it becomes a vicious, endless cycle where, too often, the employer thinks “nobody wants to work anymore,” when they should really be asking, “why is our turnover rate so high? What can we do to prevent this? Is it us?

Stronger Talent Acquisition

Out with the old and in with the new – literally. And I do not mean that in a bad or mean-spirited way. That’s just what happens as time passes. Older generations are leaving the workforce and younger generations are taking it over. Millennials make up 35% of the workforce in the US alone.

Having location and scheduling flexibility as an employer means that you can recruit from literally anywhere. And you don’t have to pay for relocation benefits, or even office space if you run a remote company. But your talent pool just opened wide up to the best people for the job. You’re not limited to picking from the small pool of applicants within your area. Candidate A from your town could be barely qualified (or not qualified) for the role you’re trying to fill, but they’re in your area. While Candidate B from a different region entirely could be the dream employee you’ve been looking for. If the work you’re hiring for can be done remotely, why would you want to hire Candidate A over Candidate B?

Quality of Life

The average one-way commute to work for people in the US is roughly 30 minutes. That’s an hour each day, in rush hour traffic both ways. 7 hours per week, 364 hours per year. That is 15 days on average, spent in a car commuting to and from work. What could you do with just that extra hour each day, let alone 15 days of your life back each year?

This is a question that people are starting to ask themselves more and more, and we are becoming increasingly frustrated with the people who say “We wont offer flexibility, because this is just how things are done.” If you’re a business owner with employees, I urge you to think about your employees with empathy and understanding and treat them as people.

Having the flexibility to split the days up into chunks and go take a nap or do a workout directly plays into someone’s health and wellbeing. When people are able to take care of themselves, they take less time off, especially sick leave.

Businesses have their target market and audience, but they also have their target employees. Worker mentality is changing and they will no longer be happy to accept a job that does not align with their boundaries and lifestyle. People are turning down roles that do not offer workplace flexibility, because they find value in working to live, not living to work.

Saving Time and Money

As the employer, if you run a remote company, you don’t need of a commercial office space. That’s a significant amount of money each month that you don’t have to spend on rent. You don’t have to pay for gas to get to the office and neither do your employees. You don’t have to spend time on the commute, and neither do your employees. The overhead costs of running a flexible and remote business are drastically lower than if you were running a business from a leased or owned (via mortgage) office space.

This is also something that maybe people don’t really think about much. Clothes. Many offices still have some kind of business casual or business professional dress code, even if it’s not explicitly stated anywhere. It’s just expected. Office = business clothes. Some remote companies expect to see you in a button-down shirt on Zoom, sure. But freedom of what to wear each day is part of a flexible work environment. Nice business-professional or business-casual clothes are not cheap. And, in my experience, they’re often not comfortable. I can get through the day in clothes like that, but I’m going to be uncomfortable after the first 20 minutes or so. I’ll be miserable after the first couple of hours.

Being able to wear clothes that I’m actually comfortable in while I work sets me up for a good day, right from the start.

Childcare

I went back and forth on whether to include this aspect of flexible working in this post, as I already talk about motherhood a lot. And I have this issue where I feel like people don’t like me if I latch onto one subject and do not stop talking about it. But I am talking directly to working parents here, as a working mother myself, with a working partner.

The main reason I left my full time 9-5 job when I did was because of a new childcare policy that became a condition of employment. I brought up my concerns about that policy with the CEO and I was afforded some flexibility. I was able to flex the afternoons that I did not have childcare. This only ever really ended up being one afternoon per week. But then things happened and I was no longer able to comply with that policy at 40 hours per week, so I left.

In our area, childcare is unavailable

And where it is available, it’s unaffordable. Even the daycares with numerous single star reviews on Google have waitlists that are months, if not years long. We are on the waitlist for 90% of the daycares in our area. We have been on many of those waitlists since I was in my first trimester of pregnancy. Our child is almost a year old. One of our family members has been on the waitlist for a daycare since they found out she was pregnant with their third. He’s almost three and a spot still has not opened up. And their two oldest children attended that daycare.

In my search for pricing on these childcare facilities – we checked daycares and schools – part time enrollment ranged from $800-1200/month. Full time enrollment was anywhere from $1000 – $1400/month. The responses I’d get from these facilities when they’d add us to the waitlist would be, “Okay, you’re on our waitlist, but we don’t expect to have any part time openings.”

Just that.

Our situation is definitely not unique.

In offering workplace flexibility, you’re allowing your talent pool to include working parents. Childcare may not be an option for them during the day. But if they’re able to be a parent during the day and work at night or during nap times, or independent play times – and do good work? You’ve won. This relates back to the location freedom mentioned above. If Candidate A has childcare or does not have kids, but they would not be the best for the job while Candidate B is the best fit, but can’t work certain hours during the day because they can’t find or afford childcare – are you going to let that become your barrier to entry?

Employment is a relationship

With romantic or platonic relationships, if one side is being exploited by the other, we look at it and call it toxic. We tell the exploited party to leave that relationship as fast as possible. It’s hard in domestic situations. And it’s hard in professional situations, because the exploiting party is paying us and we all have bills to pay. The thought of being without any kind of financial security is scarier than staying in a shitty work situation.

Workplace flexibility is one of those instances where the employer needs to make the first move. They need to extend that trust and respect first and the employee will follow. As a business owner, if I had a team of people that I relied on to keep my business thriving, I would want to make sure that they’re happy and know how grateful I am to have them on my team.

Now, that’s not to say that every flexibility option is going to work in all situations, because it’s not. The kind of flexibility I’m talking about here may not even be possible in your industry. But where there is opportunity for flexibility, why not offer it? If it gets abused, have a discussion with the person abusing it and maybe set some more boundaries. Or end the relationship. But extend that courtesy and opportunity to everyone.

No one cares about your business more than you

It’s true. Your employees, while they may care about the work, and your business to an extent, they will never be as invested in the success of it as you will. As the business owner and employer, it’s your job to make them care. Some people will only care about the paycheck. And that’s totally fine. That’s the agreement they’ve entered into with you – get the work done to the expected quality, get paid. But again, I’m going to mention the trust and value aspect. People are more likely to care about a company that cares about them than they are to care about one that treats them as cogs in a machine.


In researching for this blog post, I found some cons of “workplace flexibility” that were really more just possible downsides of remote working than anything. But therein lies the solution – provide the flexibility to choose where to work. If someone feels they work best in an office setting, they can go into the office if the company has one. Or they could go to a coworking space – those are popping up everywhere now. Here’s what I found for ‘cons’ of workplace flexibility. It also lists out some pros!

Cons of “workplace flexibility”

Blurred Work-Life Balance

This actually is a good con to consider. Some people don’t know how or when to turn it “off” if they don’t have the structure of a 9-5. So they may wake up in the middle of the night and start working because they’re worried about that thing that’s coming up in a few days. They may rack up far more hours than they should and either: 1) get unapproved overtime, or more likely, 2) provide free work.

I do still think that this can be solved with the ‘flexibility’ aspect, though. If someone works best between certain hours, they should have the option and ability to work those hours. Just because one person works from 8-10, 12-4, and 7-9 throughout the day, that doesn’t mean they need to. There’s nothing wrong with working set hours, if it’s what works best for your lifestyle.

Distractions

Some people absolutely get distracted by things at home. Pets, kids, deliveries, chores, etc.

But again – here’s where workplace flexibility comes in. If a person knows that they get distracted easily, they should have the option to choose where they work. Does the company have an office space? Maybe they work from there and then they can get that face to face aspect that they may be missing in a work environment. If they just need quiet, maybe a library would be a good place to set up. If they get distracted easily though, the office may be just as much of a distraction.

Communication issues

This is also another good thing to consider about flexible working. As mentioned in the post linked above, different schedules can lead to some difficulties in communication. And nobody wants to be on-call for work issues at all hours of the day. I’d say that this is probably the biggest con, to be honest. But in order to minimize communication issues, coming up with a plan for different potential situations as a team is important. Exhaust as many options as you can think of with that strategy and have reaching out to someone only as a last resort. There’s nothing about workplace flexibility that says or implies that you can’t have regularly scheduled meetings with the team. And using those meetings to touch base either on a daily or weekly or bi-weekly basis could be a solid solution to issues that arise while other people are out.

Company Culture reduction

I’m sure this is a thing for a lot of people. In my experience working remotely for a company where I started as an on-site employee, I don’t think the company culture diminished at all. It definitely changed, but I don’t think it suffered. There are so many communication apps to choose from that, even if you can’t reach them right that second, they’re very easy to reach. Every company is different, but company culture does not have to look like water cooler chats.

And if everyone is working different schedules, but you want to maintain or increase company culture or engagement, plan things to show appreciation for the work they do. Have annual or bi-annual company retreats or holiday parties or virtual happy hours. These are things that will get everyone face to face, at least virtually if in-person is not an option.

Accountability tracking

It can be difficult tracking accountability for remote or flexible workers. However – if you have a system in place to just have people send a written update at the end of their day with their progress on something, or use a project management tool that everyone can see, then you’ll have a good idea of where work stands. And scheduling monthly or quarterly meetings with employees to go over performance and work quality is not a bad idea either,

What is a bad idea is to require everyone to install tracking software on their computers. Programs that will record their screens and monitor mouse or keyboard activity (or inactivity), and take screenshots at regular intervals. This is going to undo all of the goodwill they may have had toward you for the flexible work arrangement because having that software tells them that you don’t actually trust them to do the job you hired them to do. It’s going to give them anxiety and make them feel like you’re watching over their shoulder at all times. Who works well like that?

There’s a difference between “working under pressure” and “being constantly monitored.”

Full flexibility doesn’t work everywhere

I know that. There’s not exactly much room for flexibility in industries like retail, food service, or emergency services. You can’t work from anywhere in those industries and you can’t really choose your own hours. But in the cases where offering workplace flexibility doesn’t work, you can still be empathetic and understanding. Owning a business is hard. But leading with empathy and by example will also go a long way in gaining the trust and respect of your employees. If you own a restaurant and one of your cooks calls out sick at the last minute on a Saturday night, showing up in the kitchen to help wherever you can will not go unnoticed.


Finding the balance with workplace flexibility and productivity can be challenging, but it’s worth it, especially if you’re trying to grow your business. You want to attract good people for the jobs and then you want to retain those people. When we’re kids, we often hear, “treat others how you wish to be treated.” Or at least, I did. Treat others with respect and be accommodating where you can. Otherwise, you may find yourself losing employees when big life events happen, or the second a flexible job opportunity comes along.

If you’re trying to grow your business with flexibility and empathy, I’d love to chat with you! It makes me so happy when I see companies embracing the evolution of work-life balance. And as a branding and web designer, I want to support those companies in any way that I can. And if that means that you’d like to work together, then reach out and let’s talk about your project! The world needs more compassion, especially when it comes to work.

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