Work Flexibility: Definition, Importance, Types and How To

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 9 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Flexible companies are becoming commonplace as employees look for new work environments to have better work-life balance opportunities. As workplace flexibility increases, there are benefits to employers and employees alike. Most notably, employees have some control over their time and employers benefit from employees who are more productive and loyal to the company. In this article, we define what workplace flexibility is, describe the different types of workplace flexibility, share the aspects of this type of work arrangement and explore the benefits of this work arrangement.

What is work flexibility?

Work flexibility is a work arrangement where you're given greater scheduling freedom in how you fulfil the duties and responsibilities of your position. It's more about finishing the work and places less importance on where and when you complete your tasks. Companies often use flexible work options for engaging and retaining employees. They also use it to achieve their goals thanks to improved productivity.

Related: Flexible Working Hours: Definition, Types and How to Request

Why is flexibility important at work?

Workplace flexibility is becoming a more common phenomenon in which you're given the opportunity to do your job in a way that suites your responsibilities and lifestyle. In other words, it's the alternative to the regular work hours and an important part of any modern company's culture.

Work flexibility offers several advantages for both employers and employees. These include:

Motivated employees

Employers can decrease turnover if their employees don't feel like they have to watch the clock and ensure they account for every second of their time. Flexibility at work can be a natural motivator for employees because of the trust they feel from their employer to do their tasks and do it well. It can also help increase loyalty.

Improved creativity and productivity

When employees have more freedom and feel worthy of their job or position, employers can reap the benefits. Employees can have more time to spend with their loved ones instead of worrying about scheduling a doctor's appointment on a lunch break. This can enhance their creativity and improve their productivity because of their commitment to the company and being able to show they can balance everything they're responsible for.

Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care While Working from Home

Improved customer loyalty

Employees who are happy with their work schedule are likely to remain loyal to the company. If companies provide what their employees are looking for, employees are likely to work harder, remain employed for the long-term and care about the quality of work they produce. They're also likely to tell others about the organisation and refer their contacts to the company.

Less stress

Companies who offer a flexible work schedule can expect their employees to feel less stress. A flexible work schedule can give employees more control over their time. This can make them feel like a trusted and valued part of the team. They can also avoid the stress of commuting or traffic issues, and employers may not have to worry about late arrivals. When employees have more control of their schedule, they're also more available for everything from meetings to their work assignments.

Improved customer service experience

Work flexibility can lead to a more satisfied employees, which can positively impact a company's rapport with its clients. The flexible hours available at a company can mean that they can increase their availability to clients and have the ability to respond and resolve issues beyond the regular business hours. When clients are happy and feel that the company's customer service is meeting their needs, they're usually more loyal and may tell others about their amazing experience.

Increased attractiveness to top talent

Companies that provide flexible work options carry that reputation with them among top talents and their contacts. They may get positive reviews for this offering on various online job boards and become a desirable place to work. This usually means that companies can begin attracting top talent for their industry, which can contribute to a workplace that's even more creative and productive than before.

What are examples of flexible work arrangements?

Here are some examples of flexible work arrangements:

Flex hours

Flexible work hours are the core of workplace flexibility. This allows employees to set their own schedules, provided that they still adhere to due dates, maintain the same level of productivity and submit high-quality work that meets or exceeds expectations. If you're on a salary, you may choose to work more or less than the regular hours per week. This can help contribute to your work-life balance, as you may feel less stressed because you can arrange your day to accomplish both personal errands and work tasks without feeling overwhelmed.

Related: How To Make a Daily Work Schedule

Part-time employment

A part-time work schedule is another way to have a flexible workplace. Companies can reap the benefits of a flexible workplace by employing part-time employees to fill needed gaps. If a company is having difficulty filling a full-time position due to lack of available workers or not being able to provide a competitive salary, they may consider hiring two part-time employees to fill that need.

As an employee, a part-time schedule can be very attractive if you're in charge of childcare or if you're children are still in school. It's also beneficial if you're looking to earn marketable skills in a new industry.

Condensed schedules

Companies usually require you to work 40 hours per week. However, some companies condense the work week with a 10-hour workday that's spread across four days. These days don't have to be consecutive either. While this option means longer workdays, you can have the extra day off during the week, which means you can enjoy three-day weekdays or a day off in the middle of the week to break up your working days.

Remote work

Working remotely has become more popular than ever, as it addresses a range of problems for employees and employers. Remote work can help companies save money and lower their overhead costs, as they don't need to rent office space or buy supplies for their employees. Remote work also allows employees to save time and money, as they don't have to spend time commuting or spend money on workplace attire or work lunches.

Related: Everything You Should Know About Working From Home

Freelancing

If a company offers contract work, they can use freelancers to make a flexible work environment within their company. This can benefit both you and your employer, as you can work seasonally or on a project basis. A lot of freelancers are experts in their industry and have grown their own personal businesses by establishing a flexible environment that allows them to handle multiple clients and tasks at once. Freelancers can be an excellent choice for companies to fill a need in a short period of time.

Unlimited paid time off

Unlimited paid time off offers several benefits to employers, as it simplifies the process of requesting time off. Rather than using complicated spreadsheets, a company can use time blocking and a calendar to mark off when you're out of the office. Unlimited paid time off allows you to work various hours, depending on the needs of your everyday life. This kind of flexibility can give you peace of mind, knowing you can call out sick without any repercussions.

How to make your job more flexible

Here are some steps you can take to make your job more flexible:

1. Determine what flexible arrangement is ideal for you

Establishing set goals can be an effective way to improve your work flexibility. Begin by assessing your job and identifying what you would like to keep or improve. For instance, if you want to have the option of arriving at the office at any time as long as you work eight hours, you can develop a plan for requesting this change from your manager or supervisor.

2. Be realistic about what flexible work arrangements are possible

Once you choose the work arrangements you want, make sure they're realistic. If you work in a company with a big office and few employees work irregular schedules, you may need to work standard hours as well. Changing your duties and responsibilities may also be limited, as there are specific jobs or positions that only certain individuals in the company can do. If you want to make a change, it may need to be within the rules and regulations of your company.

3. Speak to your manager or supervisor

Once you have set your goals, bring your request to your manager or supervisor. Make sure to provide a valid reason for the changes, as this can increase your chances of having them accepted. You may also state what you love about your job and what you think your best contributions are.

Related: How to Write SMART Goals For Your Career (With Examples)

4. Research your options at your current work

Think about the specific flexible work arrangements that you want in your current job, and research how you can facilitate them. For example, you may need resources such as a laptop or a mobile network at your remote worksite. Determining the specific requirements for a more flexible job can help you make a more effective request for flexible work options from your manager or supervisor.

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