As businesses become more connected, investing in resources that allow employees to work from virtually anywhere in the world are becoming more of a necessity than a perk. According to a recent SHRM article, 80% of employees said they’d be more loyal to a company with flex-work benefits. For many companies, offering such benefits is well-worn territory. For others, it’s an important topic to begin discussing to ensure their competitiveness in an increasingly tough recruiting market.
What are flex-work benefits?
As the name suggests, flex-work benefits are those that allow employees to work remotely, or different flexible work hours and days than those traditionally observed.
Why are flex-work benefits on the rise?
Part of the answer is technology. So long as a person has a smartphone, an internet connection, and in most cases a computer, they can adequately perform the bulk of their tasks – depending on the position. But that’s only part of the answer.
Generationally, younger employees (e.g., millennials and Gen Zers) place a significantly higher value on a healthy work-life balance than their Gen X and boomer colleagues. In fact, according to a FlexJobs report, 83% of millennials cite work-life balance as a key factor when evaluating a job, compared to 62% of older employees.
Considerations for employees with flex and remote schedules
Like anything else, a flexible work program needs some structure to maintain the same degree of productivity, collaboration and accountability that’s expected of employees not engaging in these benefits.
What resources do your employees need?
Fortunately, there is a wealth of great tools that allow remote employees to continue collaborating with their on-site peers. Slack, for example, is an internal real-time messaging platform that boasts more than 10 million active users. The program allows for teams to set up their own channels and send files from anywhere they may be working.
Google’s suite of productivity tools (e.g., Sheets, Docs, Slides) is a free alternative to Microsoft Office that allows real-time editing and collaboration. If your organization’s security needs prohibit the use of Google’s tools, consider implementing a VPN, which allows employees to securely and remotely log into your company’s server to access documents and other resources.
Whether it be FaceTime, Skype or another video-conference tool, it’s important to emphasize the use of these resources so that employees can still get “face-to-face” time with their colleagues at the main office. Even the most introverted employees can feel isolated when they don’t interact with their peers often enough. This also helps your staff see each other as actual people and not just as email addresses.
Make flex-work consistent
It doesn’t matter if your employees work traditional schedules in your office or work from home with flexible hours, everyone needs to abide by the same rules, and more importantly, expectations. This certainly will vary by your organization’s culture and needs. For some, it’s important that they observe “core hours” (e.g., 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.) when everyone is expected to be online and available.
For others, it isn’t so much that they must be available at specific times, but that there’s clarity around the team’s responsibilities and expectations. Without this transparency, it’s easy for one side to feel the other is getting preferential treatment. For example, team members who work traditional schedules may feel their peers with flex schedules get to “come and go as they please,” while those with flex schedules may feel like there’s still an implied understanding that they’ll be connected during normal hours.
Relocate or telecommute?
With it being easier than ever for employees to work virtually anywhere, why relocate them at all? Obviously, there are plenty of reasons to relocate someone versus having them work remotely. Many positions often involve hands-on work or require individuals to provide on-site oversight to projects and staff; these are the positions for which it’s most important to relocate employees.
It also cannot be overstated how important it is for your organization’s culture to have staff working together in the same location. Flex and remote schedules may be on the rise, but the long-term benefits of routine face-to-face communication can go a long way toward establishing deeper trust and resiliency among your staff.
As generational preferences continue to evolve, organizations are learning to adapt to ensure they are offering the benefits they need to recruit and retain the best employees. For many younger professionals, this includes the opportunity to work remotely and/or have flexible schedules to accommodate the stronger work-life balance they seek. If you need help identifying the right benefits for your business, give us a call!