5 Tips for Crafting a Flexible Environment Within Your Business

Regardless of any mission statement or list of core values, the ultimate goal for every company is to make money.

Aside from having a desired product or offering, a key part of increasing profits is the talent within your ranks. Land the Stradivarius of software engineering, and you’re the next Google.

Snag the woman who can sell popsicles to snowmen, and there are going to be a lot more zeroes on your next bank statement.

You get the picture. Hiring top talent is crucial and, just like you, all your competitors are aware of this factor.

In today’s market, there are many varieties of “carrots” to dangle in order to get the next great one to waltz through your doors. Offer a higher salary, premium healthcare and benefits, maybe a company car.

Today we’re going to focus on what has become a near necessity in today’s workplace: flexibility. If you’re considering offering flexibility for the employees within your organization and are not sure where to start, here are some things to keep in mind.

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1. Bigger Pool of Talent

Regardless of where you’re located in the world, requiring all workers to report to a physical office means you’re limiting your pool to those already within a commutable distance and those who are willing to relocate. You could have the latest and greatest software company located in the heart of Silicon Valley or a posh office overlooking the New York City skyline, but the fact remains that there will ultimately be those who simply do not share your picture of perfect. So what will work for you in terms of a remote workforce?

First, you need to set your boundaries. Will employees be required to report to the home office with any sort of frequency? If so, what does the expense look like if you open your doors to those in other countries? How will you configure your office? Commuter-style desks? Open conference rooms? The point is, you need to determine what an appropriate threshold is for your organization today. You can always adjust further as time goes on.

2. Many Shapes of Flex

Aside from considering remote employees, another low-hanging fruit is simply offering flexible hours. Years ago, the concept of flex-time entered the market. Today, we’ve moved beyond the traditional notion of flex-time where an employee may choose what hours they work based on a pre-determined model.

Some alternative models to consider are daily flex plans whereby employees can vary start times on a daily basis, often with short or no notice; compressed work-weeks where employees can work more hours per day in exchange for less than the traditional five days per week schedule; or even a total flex schedule where employees are able to work both on- and off-site at hours of their choosing.

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3. Maximizing Technology

No matter how your organization decides to implement its flexibility plan, the one universal truth is that without using modern technology, you’ll fail. Does your organization have the infrastructure to maintain communication and relationships? Conference lines, instant messaging, virtual meeting rooms and the like will be crucial in maintaining order as you make the shift. What security requirements will be needed? Can your current IT staff support the new model? These are some of the many details you’ll want to ensure you cover during your strategy planning.

4. Know the Enemy

OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but the point is that you need to take a good look at what’s happening in your particular industry. Here’s where you can really differentiate yourself and draw in those five-star recruits. You need to be careful, as you don’t want to give away the farm at the detriment of your bottom line. Engage your recruiters and hiring managers what are they hearing as they sit down with potential candidates? Are these needs and wants realistic? If they are within your means, at a minimum consider setting your policies in line with your competition.

5. The Rollout

Part of your go-forward strategy with workplace flexibility should be focused on how you will roll out the new organizational changes. At the end of the day, high-quality work needs to continue to move at the current pace the changes we’re talking about may be monumental to your current staff.

Before you begin bringing in new blood, make sure you’ve clearly communicated the new policies and have action plans in place of how to manage the inevitable shift toward flexibility. Failure in this arena could cost you some of your current talent as, with any new policy, confusion and “water cooler” chats still reign supreme.

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All too often we hear that there is no loyalty in the modern workplace, from either employers or employees. Yet one study indicated that flexibility in the workplace would increase loyalty to more than 82 percent of all respondents. Increasing and maintaining high-quality talent can mean the difference between boom and bust for most companies. Why not be on the leading edge? As Tolstoy said, “There is no greatness where there is no simplicity, goodness and truth.” Be good.


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