Check it out what you will find on this article about flexible careers:
- Putting a value proposition on flexible careers
- Why flexible careers can change organizations for the better
- Do you have the right tools to support flexible careers in your workplace?
It’s probably safe to say that as time has passed, the day-to-day dynamics of our lives as a whole has changed a lot even compared to the ones we had just a decade ago. Technology has evolved, putting different facets to the quality of life we have now. And it is precisely technology that can also serve to improve the lives we have while keeping us creative and productive individuals who still contribute to the organizations we belong to. This is where flexible careers come in, allowing people to become better versions of themselves that have a rich private life as well as a thriving career in the professional space.
A lot of people have experienced working for a company that have very rigid rules — the very opposite of flexible. In such a work environment, people are often demotivated, which results in a low quality of work, high turnover of staff, failure to retain talent, and low creativity. And while many of these companies still abound, more often than not, they are as mediocre as the work environment they foster — precisely and primarily because people don’t stay. Learned skills and experience aren’t kept within the company since employees are eager to leave and find better employment — more so for any top talent unlucky enough to get him or herself hired there.
The concept of flexible careers fix that, allowing employees more flexibility to work at their own pace and at their own time, and even where they want. While the primary concern of organizations that allow flexible careers is that employees deliver the best quality output, it all goes back around to the different elements flexible careers bring to the table — employees often find themselves in a healthier mental state, which is conducive to creativity and makes them more motivated. The idea of a flexible career — be it through a four-day work week, telecommuting, ghost work, or the like — is one where everyone wins, as it benefits both the employer and the employee.
Putting a value proposition on flexible careers
For employers, flexible employees mean less questions like “Why do I have to do it?” or statements like “It’s not my job to do it.” Flexible employees welcome new challenges and new tasks, as long as they’re given reasonable parameters to work. Moreover, flexible employees are better able to adjust the way they work based on the demands of shareholders and can adapt to most situations and any changes they may encounter along the way.
As long as it’s done properly, allowing employees to be flexible mean that much more can potentially be accomplished — which means productivity gets a boost. Employees with flexible careers have more to offer and put more on the table than other employees who simply cling to the old way of doing things. Especially when you consider agile and LEAN organizations, job-sharing (naturally within reason) means that everyone has each other’s back and people work as a team, filling in gaps when needed and helping each other move forward. Employers who support flexible careers find that if they handle things right, they get more out of employees and employees are glad to offer their best effort to get tasks done and projects completed.
On the other side of the coin, employees also appreciate leadership that is flexible since that philosophy and methodology translates into the way employees are treated. They are not looked at like disposable and expendable gears in a machine that can easily be replaced. Flexible managers look at an individual’s skills and capabilities and allow them to be better utilized by the organization. As a result, employees skills grow, and they have much more freedom not only inside the organization, but also outside of it, which in turn results in them being more refreshed when it’s time to get to work.
Flexible careers also mean that more constructive feedback can be given, and it fosters a working atmosphere where employees are guided to accomplish on only the task at hand, but their career goals in general.
Why flexible careers can change organizations for the better
Consider Manila in the Philippines, where traffic jams are so bad that a 2014 estimate by the Japan International Cooperation Agency put losses in productivity due to traffic congestion at a whopping $41 million A DAY. One can only imagine what lost productivity is worth now, since traffic congestion has not improved, but has gotten much worse.
One company’s solution is to let ALL its employees have flexible careers. Everyone telecommutes. Gabby Dizon, CEO and co-founder of mobile game studio Altitude Games, says that he wants his employees to have “full control of how they want to be productive.” He adds, “We assume that people who are in the company want to do our shared mission—in our case it’s to make games—and within that we want people to really have control about when and where they are most efficient.”
Dizon has been telecommuting for around a decade now, proof that his methodology works. Moreover, many other companies have consulted with him on how they can transition to allowing flexible careers for their employees. He instead relies on various digital tools (such as the suite of tools Runrun.it provides) to keep the team in touch throughout the workday. In effect, his company manages to maximize their daily productivity; in fact, the least productive days are the rare occasions when most or everyone in the staff need to come in physically at the office.
Flexible careers can change an organization for the better. It’s important for leadership to at least consider the many benefits of supporting flexible careers in the workplace.
1. Employees feel more valued and respected.
Like we said before, flexible careers allow employees to live their lives more. They aren’t tied to simply being in the office. When leadership allows people to have their own work-life balance, you show that you respect what they can do and trust them to know what they need to do and when they need to do it. In Altitude Game’s case, employee turnover is very low, and top talent is retained. Many even volunteer to work longer hours since they know how important a project is and they want to give back to how the company treats them. The whole positive workplace environment also encourages greater camaraderie and teamwork and creates a positive culture for the organization as a whole.
Flexible careers also give employees more job security and job stability, since they worry less about other day-to-day concerns outside of work (since they have more flexibility to deal with those things) as opposed to a traditional set up where calling in sick or a needed absence might cost that employee their job.
2. Employees’ minds will be in a better place.
A better place in terms of being motivated and creative. Stress (regardless of the cause) can seriously hamper a person’s capability to contribute and be productive. Flexible careers allow people to have the freedom to take a break when they need to without having a manager or worse, a timeclock keeping track of every minute.
According to the American Institute of Stress, some of the main causes of stress in the workplace are workload (46%), and juggling work and personal issues (20%). And workers who experience higher levels of stress also are at a higher risk for illnesses such as heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders.
According to the World Health Organization, “Employees are less likely to experience work-related stress when – demands and pressures of work are matched to their knowledge and abilities – control can be exercised over their work and the way they do it – support is received from supervisors and colleagues – participation in decisions that concern their jobs is provided.” This is EXACTLY what flexible careers accomplishes.
Also, consider this: Global Workplace Analytics found that 36% of employees would choose the ability to have a flexible career over a pay raise. It’s proof how much flexible careers help employees take themselves out of the rat race, so to speak, and have the healthier life-work balance they desire.
3. You use less resources.
Last you checked, how much does office space where you are at cost? How much would it cost (daily or monthly) to pay for energy and other resources to keep a fully-functional and fully-occupied office space running?
Allowing employees to have flexible careers allows organizations to spend less not only on office space, but also on energy and other resources as well, since little to no people come in to work day in and day out. Taking Altitude Game’s example, they only permanently lease a small office space which is basically a conference room for the rare occasions the company’s executives and employees need to come in, or when some employees choose to come to the office just to be able to get out for a change.
According to the Global Workplace Analytics study, even large companies like IBM saw a reduction of as much as $50 million by allowing flexible careers; McKesson saves $2 million annually because of employees with flexible careers; and Dow Chemical and Nortel sees around 30% additional savings on non-real estate costs. All in all, six out of ten employers say that they have seen savings due to flexible careers.
4. Improves brand / company image.
LinkedIn’s 2017 Global Recruiting Trends show that one of the primary drivers for a company to attract, hire, and retain top talent is having a good image and reputation. As much as 80% of talent leaders agree that this is the case.
As such, companies that offer flexible careers to staff communicates to interested talent and current employees that the company is invested in allowing them to have a healthy work-life balance. This is definitely a major factor that will attract good people to work for that company, as well as keep employee turnover low. Organizations with good reputations always have the cream of the crop, which is a key ingredient to a company’s ability to innovate and grow.
5. Better productivity, better business health.
Since employees have much better mental health, they have higher morale, and as a result, are generally significantly more productive. Studies from the SHRM Foundation and Flexjobs and Global Workplace Analytics state that flexible careers have a direct link to a boost in productivity. A separate study in 2018 by Flexjobs also supports this, with 65% of respondents saying that they believe they would be much more productive if they had flexible careers.
As a result of this, employees are much more satisfied with their work, and reward the company with superior output that is both innovative and creative. And as we mentioned earlier, some will even volunteer to go the extra mile for the company in recognition of the value the company puts on them. This kind of employee support is invaluable in a company that wants to continue to grow and develop in a highly competitive operating environment. Moreover, incidents like bad weather or a power outage won’t slow down business operations. Workers with flexible careers can continue to work from different locations, which means that little to no productivity is lost.
Do you have the right tools to support flexible careers in your workplace?
Initiatives such as allowing flexible careers also require the use of the right tools to facilitate its transformative power. Runrun.it’s innovative and pioneering suite of workflow management software is the perfect example of the kind of tools an organization would need to make flexible careers possible and functional.
The nature of Runrun.it’s tools, that among other things, help you better track the amount of time spent on a project and manage the tasks assigned across teams and the individuals who comprise those teams, and also generate all sorts of data and metrics on past and present tasks help management and leadership see any points of improvement and step in to intervene when needed. Try out Runrun.it’s FREE trial here to see how these tools can help your organization become more flexible, dynamic, efficient, cost-effective, and ready for growth and success.