The New Must-Have Benefit for Top Workplaces

Life comes at us in unpredictable ways. Usually this happens to us individually, and we need a little flexibility at work to get through some trying circumstances.

Some workplaces bend well when asked. Others not so much. And when they don’t, the problems are even harder to resolve.

We demonstrated flexibility

One thing that the COVID-19 pandemic made clear is that we all need to be flexible. Processes and policies that were supposedly rock-solid suddenly flexed, and together we’ve tip-toed our way through the crisis.

We were flexible when we had to be. The question now is whether we will continue to be flexible because it makes good business sense.

Flexibility is no longer optional

Now, with so many people having experienced new and flexible ways of working, their willingness to go back to rigid structures has been seriously diminished.

What were once irritations and inconveniences have become deal-breakers for prospective employees you want to hire or for solid-performers you don’t want to lose.

The list includes:

  • Commuting time and expense
  • Parking
  • Buying and maintaining work clothes
  • Putting up with coworkers
  • Being locked into a schedule
  • Dealing with all personal tasks outside normal business hours

A flexible workplace that provides for better work-life balance is now the must-have benefit for companies that want to stand out as their area’s most desired employers.

Flexibility challenges to overcome

This is going to involve a lot of change for employers and workers. If employees want employers to flex, then employees need to become more flexible as well.

To make it work, here are just a few systemic changes that need to be considered:

  • Labor laws
  • Union contracts
  • Job descriptions
  • Employee vs. contractor
  • Full-time vs. part-time
  • Exempt vs. non-exempt
  • Compensation and benefit policies

Perhaps the question should always come down to this:

What work needs to get done and what’s the best way to get it done?

Once you identify the approach you’d like to use, then you’ll encounter the barriers that need to be overcome.

For people who do organization design work, these are exciting times.

In what ways do you think work should be more flexible?

By Tom LaForce

Tom LaForce owns LaForce Teamwork Services, a Minneapolis-based consulting company. He's on a mission to create better results through teamwork. He wrote Meeting Hero: Plan and Lead Engaging, Productive Meetings.