Working 9 to 5 used to be the primary way to make a living, but that’s changing fast. Nowadays, nearly 60% of organizations offer their employees some form of flexible work arrangement.* In fact, flexible work arrangements—known as workflex—have become a common and highly desirable benefit, with 75% of employees ranking it as their most important benefit.†
If you’re a manager at a modern organization, your company likely offers or is being pressured by employees to offer workflex programs. Your challenge is to figure out how to make workflex as beneficial for your organization as it is for your employees.
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What Are the Main Types of Workflex Programs?
There are six primary varieties of workflex programs currently in use. These include:
- Flexible Work Schedules
This program allows employees to set their own starting and departure times. This can be done on a permanent or on an as-needed basis when outside obligations arise. Employees who take advantage are still expected to work a set number of hours each week.
- Flexplace Arrangements
Also known as telecommuting, a flexplace program gives employees the option to work off-site. These programs take advantage of modern technology to keep flexplace employees connected to servers and other staff members. While the amount of permitted flexplace time varies from one organization to another, nearly 40% of U.S. workers report having telecommuted,‡ making this an increasingly common form of workflex.
- Compressed Work Week
Similar to flexible scheduling, a compressed work week program allows employees to manage more of their time, giving them the option to complete their allotted work hours in fewer days than the traditional 5-day week.
- Job Sharing Arrangements
Two people who do not wish to—or who can’t—work full time can split the duties of a full-time job through a job sharing program. Both employees are part time but function in partnership as a full-time employee, ensuring a position is fully staffed.
- ROWE Arrangements
Pioneered by Best Buy, Results-Only Work Environments (ROWEs) don’t require employees to maintain traditional work hours or schedules. Instead of hours worked, employees are expected to meet performance and productivity standards.
How Can You Best Manage Workflex?
When done right, workflex can greatly benefit an organization. Organizations using workflex report improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity, higher employee retention, and more successful employee recruiting.† But if management of your workflex programs isn’t handled properly, you won’t see many—if any—of those benefits.
To get the most out of workflex, you should:
- Determine What’s Feasible
Not all positions in an organization are a good fit for workflex. For example, you need your receptionist answering calls during regular business hours and your delivery people on the road and not at home. Before making any position eligible for workflex, consider whether or not your organization can operate smoothly if the person staffing that position is not physically available when you need them.
- Ease Into It
When instituting a new workflex program, conduct a trial run first. Have a few employees adopt the new schedule/work situation for a limited time and observe the outcomes. This way, you can uncover unexpected complications and avoid large-scale negative consequences.
- Prioritize Communication
If a lot of your employees are working different schedules and/or are working in different locations, communication and teamwork can quickly suffer. That’s why you should pair all workflex programs with a strong communication plan that keeps people fully connected.
- Set Clear Boundaries
No matter which types of workflex programs you offer, you should maintain clear expectations. For example, if employees are telecommuting, you may want to mandate they be available by phone and e-mail during business hours even if they are completing some work before or after hours. Setting clear boundaries can help ensure everyone stays on task and no one takes advantage of the situation.
How Can You Learn More?
Setting up and managing a workflex program can be complicated. If you want to improve your understanding of how modern workplaces function—and improve your chances of being a successful manager—one of the best choices you can make is to enroll in a top MBA program. That’s because earning a Master of Business Administration is like earning a management degree and a business administration degree all at once, and it can help you gain the skills and in-depth knowledge you need to succeed in modern business.
Today, some of the best business schools offer online learning, giving you the opportunity to earn your master’s of business administration in a convenient format. With an online MBA program, you can complete coursework from home on a schedule designed to meet the needs of working adults—making earning an advanced business degree more feasible than ever before. With an online MBA program, you can earn your business administration master’s and learn how to apply the latest in management techniques—including workflex—to the workplace.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Master of Business Administration degree program. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*Society for Human Resource Management, 2013 State of Employee Benefits in the Workplace—Flexible Work Arrangements, on the internet at www.shrm.org/hr-today/trends-and-forecasting/research-and-surveys/Pages/2013stateofbenefits-flexibleworkarrangements.aspx.
†WorkplaceTrends, Survey Finds Disconnect Between Employers and Employees On Work-Life Balance, The 2015 Workplace Flexibility Study, on the internet at https://workplacetrends.com/the-2015-workplace-flexibility-study.
‡J. Jones, In U.S., Telecommuting for Work Climbs to 37%, Gallup, on the internet at www.gallup.com/poll/184649/telecommuting-work-climbs.aspx.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.