Flexibility enhances work environments

Flexibility tends to solve problems

Without flexibility, you can become trapped

Neither you or your employees need to feel trapped in a dull, cramped office and a daily commute. Create more flexibility in your working environment while inspiring everyone to improve productivity and the bottom line. Employees today want to become more mobile with flexible working hours.

With advancements in technology, you can connect with your customers, employees and others anywhere, anytime. You can operate your business remotely with less overhead costs while improving your work/life balance.

Rapidly growing businesses are always concerned with their ability to be flexible and adapt. Smaller businesses have far fewer embedded systems and processes that constrain flexibility, impede fast decision-making or slow the execution, This creates tight, rapid feedback loops, resulting in a better alignment of decision-making and flexibility with value creation.

The potential benefits of work flexibility are numerous. Increased morale, motivation, and the ability to attract and retain talent to name a few. Unfortunately ,some managers don’t know where to start. Others are afraid that performance could suffer or something important could fall through the cracks. Some are like broody hens, they like all their chickens around them.

Most have concerns about having employees work outside of normal work hours or at places other than the office. By taking a job design approach to workplace flexibility and mobility, you can reap the benefits of offering a better arrangement while minimising the downside.

A few things you might like to consider to improve flexibility

  • Outsource all but your core activities – Run your business remotely with people who already have experience and are able to carry out your activities. This will give you more flexibility to work on important tasks that will impact the business. http://goo.gl/on3Ahf.
  • Sell more things online – Online services allow you to move towards a ‘paperless’ career. If you are selling products without the need for any manufacturing, then you and your team can work from anywhere. Even your physical products and logistics can be outsourced.
  • Think differently about productivity – Fixed working hours are a thing of a past. Model full-time and part-time employees working hours to suit their circumstances. Base their salaries directly on their performance. You will find in most cases, flexibility will improve performance.
  • Work where you are comfortable – Whether in a busy cafe, a park  or on a skiing holiday, you can work where you perform well and feel comfortable. Work where you feel most comfortable. Mobility is a feature of the modern business, http://goo.gl/ZpSNRo.
  • Don’t stop learning – When venturing into remote workplaces, you need to adapt to your new surroundings. Don’t be afraid to use digital communication tools and teach yourself how to improve your situation and your business.
  • Improved planning practices – When a business starts on the journey of doing some serious planning. Flexibility is heightened, the struggles subside and positive things start to happen,  http://goo.gl/Owmpjp.
  • Real-time marketing – Every business has high and low periods of activity. Participating in real-time activities can be more effective when coupled with responsive flexibility. Working when the work is there to be done and enjoying life when things are slow.

Flexibility is a prerequisite of good leadership

Flexibility might feel dangers when you doubt yourself or the team. Inflexibility is a security blanket for weak, fearful leaders. On the other hand, too much flexibility can create instability in the organisation.

For some leaders, inflexibility feels safe. Even if results are disappointing, they feel it’s better to stay the course than face the uncertainty that change implies. Without flexibility, the working environment stays the same. Customer service stays the same and you wonder why employees and customers keep leaving. Inflexibility demoralises many people, whereas flexibility and adaptability energise them.

Inflexible leaders who push forward when it’s wiser to adapt, have their frustrations go up and energy go down. Show some flexibility in the changing circumstances. If you are struggling to make things work, flexibility might be your answer. http://goo.gl/F3gAQF.

In the globalised technology-driven marketplace, flexibility is paramount

Use a simple framework to support flexible thinking about competitive strategy. It is important for maintaining profitable growth and sustainability. Essential components of a successful organisation might include:

  • A unique positioning of the organisation and its products and services.
  • Constant updates of market segment problems, frustrations, wants and needs as they constantly change.
  • There is a defendable situation flexible enough to make it difficult for competitors to replicate.

Flexibility in the workplace works hand in hand with speed and agility.

Flexibility is about you and your employees making changes to when, where and how they will work. The objective is to better meet individual and business wants and needs. It enables both individual and business needs to be met through making changes. Changes to the time (when), location (where) and manner (how) in which an employee works for the organisation.

Maintaining a flexible environment must be mutually beneficial to both you the employer and the employee. When this is accomplished superior outcomes generally follow. If this doesn’t happen something is wrong. Maybe some external advice is needed to bring about the desired outcomes. Flexible outcomes need to be real and sustainable because figments of people’s imagination generally don’t work.

Ideas for facilitating profitable growth and sustainability

  • Staying close to customers and improving their experiences.
  • Maintaining adequate working capital to facilitate change to be made.
  • Constantly scanning the competitive environment.
  • Working closely with employees and other stakeholders.
  • Be better able to predict the future and then have the flexibility to move forward.
  • Maintaining a flexible overhead structure.
  • Integrate with the local community.
  • Systems are constantly updated as technology advances.
  • Not being welded to old ways and concepts.
  • One eye is kept on international trade opportunities.

Getting started on a flexibility program

Analyse the various jobs and positions in the business

Not all jobs are conducive to time or place mobility. However, most jobs have certain duties that are open to being done at alternate times and places other than the office. Look at the jobs and positions and break them into their component parts. It is likely you’ll find that many tasks, lend themselves to time and place flexibility. Flexibility does not have to be all or nothing, in fact, it’s usually better when it’s not.

Analyse of the people in each role

Just like all jobs are not equally conducive to flexibility, some employees are better candidates for mobile operations than others. Some will be very excited about the prospect of working from home, or in the park. Other need the comfort of working directly with colleagues.  Try talking to them about what they want and need before you implement more flexible arrangements. Maybe they can start on a part-time basis say two days a week in their home office and work from there.

Analyse the possibility of redesigning and restructuring jobs

Harvard economist Claudia Goldin found that careers in which work is substitutable tend to have more flexibility and gender equity. When work is not fully dependent on one employee,and others can coordinate actions, employees are freer to work more flexibly.

There are obvious limits to redesigning work to create more substitutability, but many workplaces could benefit by doing so. You can increase substitutability in three ways:

  1. Increased teamwork.
  2. Mentoring and personal development.
  3. Coordination of technology.

Even with less substitutable work, information technology can enable employees to remain connected remotely and help teams coordinate actions. Home-based Internet, smartphones, and easy to use computer programs all improve the business because they allow employees to remain accessible and to share work.

Before expanding workplace flexibility and mobility, you need to have the proper support systems in place. But you will find it is well worth the time and expense in setting it up.

Quotable quotes

“Creativity has always depended on openness and flexibility, so let us hope for more of both in the future”. Siri Hustvedt

“To make flexibility work, it is not only necessary to change our attitude about who is a good worker and who is not. We have to train to recognise the difference between the number of hours worked and the quality of work produced”. Madeleine Kunin

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