The global pandemic has affected attitudes toward work-life balance and introduced flexible work culture. Research from EY uncovered that almost half of the interviewed employees would leave their current jobs if they were not given flexible working opportunities. Moreover, nine in ten employees want flexibility in both when and where they work.

These numbers show that work-life balance is a key motivator behind people’s decisions to leave or join a business. Therefore, employers should be paying attention to current workforce expectations and design workplaces around people’s needs – not the other way around.

Understanding the new business landscape

The widespread remote-work solution has proven that people don’t need to be in an office to successfully deliver high-quality results. In fact, high levels of productivity could be one of the top three reasons for businesses to permanently support home-based working or at least offer it as a constant option for talents who prefer such a workstyle.

An illustration shows an employee working from home.

Along with high productivity, an additional reason for companies to consider remote work might be the rapid digital transformation. A global survey from McKinsey revealed the digitisation of businesses’ internal operations has progressed by three to four years, while their portfolios of digitally enabled products have advanced by seven years. This acceleration has changed the needs of both customers and employees, and companies will need to adapt to the new demand.

Why should we invest in flexible work culture?

Flexibility makes organizations people-centric. Moreover, it creates a stronger employer brand boosted by the productivity and mental health of their people. A supportive approach is vital for attracting top talent, improving retention, and driving a business forward.

Here are four key reasons to consider creating a flexible work culture:

Employee well-being

In the last year, almost four-fifths of interviewed employees have felt good working from home. Although flexible working hours and the comfort of a home contribute to mental wellbeing, they are not the only factors determining talents’ emotional states. For mental health to be part of the EX strategy, it has to be well communicated across all levels of the organization. 

Competitive advantage

Promoting a favourable work-life balance makes a company more appealing to job seekers. Studies show 87% of employees are more likely to apply to a workplace that took care of its teams throughout the pandemic. When competing with businesses that are once again enforcing five days in the office, the ones continuing to champion flexibility will have an advantage.

Expanded talent pools

A digitally enabled, ‘work from anywhere’ policy allows employers to hire from a wider talent pool. According to 60% of executives, talent has never been more important to maintaining a competitive edge. Removing geographical limitations will not only boost recruitment initiatives but also retain talent should current employees want to relocate.

More resources and better results

Not having to invest in large office spaces for five days a week will minimise business overheads. This means companies can dedicate more resources to recruitment, as well as improving work culture. For example, budgets can be allocated to onboarding collaborative tools or technology that streamlines flexible working.

These reasons make a compelling argument that workplaces shouldn’t revert to the way they were before the pandemic.

Achieving success with new working models

Reimagining work culture doesn’t have to be a daunting task. No matter the industry or previous setup, there are steps all companies can take to progress this journey. To create new styles of working and continue operating successfully, employers can:

An illustration shows people working as a single organism.
  • Be mindful of technological needs

Businesses must meet basic technology requirements if they want employees to effectively perform their roles. However, they should also be sensitive to individual demands and not adopt a one-size-fits-all policy.

For example, one remote worker may require additional tech hardware, while another one may require faster wi-fi capabilities. Employers can take a case-by-case approach to meet these needs.

  • Open channels for employee requests

Employees’ purchasing inquiries shouldn’t go through too many management approvals. This is cumbersome and can cause frustration. You can address this by allowing employees to set a budget that meets the needs of their roles. In this case, they would only have to follow the company’s Information Security Policy.

Generally speaking, with an available budget, all employees can choose where they want to work to be satisfied and deliver expected results.

  • Find time for team building

Checking in with team members, discussing non-work topics, and keeping people connected are all hugely important to enable a hybrid working model. For example, senior leaders can regularly dedicate time to catch up with employees and boost team morale. Virtual team building activities can also encourage a positive headspace and stronger work culture.

  • Build trustful relationships

The hybrid working model has to be based on trustful relationships from early on. Businesses should give talents the freedom to manage their own workloads, schedules, and priorities.

By prioritising flexibility, companies can adapt to current needs and prepare for the future of work. Hybrid working styles bring many benefits, from supporting employees’ mental health to creating an appealing workplace for new talents. If businesses empower employees to uphold company values, complete work on time and contribute to a high standard, they will be able to succeed as a multi-location workforce.

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