We spend much of our adult lives working, so it’s no surprise that employers frequently receive complaints about a lack of flexibility. This can go beyond work-life balance concerns; sometimes, employees have to juggle family responsibilities or changing circumstances. Here are some options that an employer could offer to accommodate their employees’ requests for an alternative arrangement.
Advances in modern technology on both the hardware and software frontiers have made it possible for an increasing number of jobs to be performed anywhere outside the office. Devices with the computing power necessary for most tasks are now more portable and affordable. Cloud file sync services make it effortless for people to collaborate across geographically distant locations, and ensure that all relevant files are accessible, backed up, and tracked for changes. Even software subscription models have changed – most companies now allow users to pay for only the apps and features they need within the duration necessary.
Being able to work from home or at a local café is undoubtedly attractive to many employees, and employers also benefit from lowering their expenses in terms of energy consumption and office space. You’d think that such a win-win situation would encourage this practice, and while remote working is gaining in popularity, some businesses are hesitant to adopt it wholesale. Lacking the requisite systems may be one reason; another could be a lack of trust in the productivity or self-discipline of their workers. However, with the right personnel or on specific projects, remote working arrangements can improve productivity and be the best overall solution.
Work hour adjustments
Have you ever felt a sense of amazement that today’s workers – or those of previous generations, for that matter – often manage somehow to squeeze family responsibilities into their daily 9-to-5 grind? Taking the kids to school, picking them up afterward, checking in on elderly or ill relatives, stopping by the supermarket to pick up necessities, and so on – these can all be part of an employee’s everyday routine.
Often the simple workaround is for employers to accommodate a schedule adjustment. This can be done by staggering their shift. Allowing a worker to clock in at 6 AM will let them dodge the rush hour traffic, for instance, making them report for work at 11 AM should give them enough time to drop off their kids at school and run errands. Schedule compression is also possible – if employees can manage it, doing 11-hour shifts for four days a week will leave them with an extra day off for more extended weekends spent with their family. While such adjustments ensure that the required hours are worked, employers do need to monitor the morale and well-being of employees on a shifted schedule.
Changing the workload
At times, employees have to deal with circumstances that render them unable to handle a full workload or log regular hours. Caring for a loved one with chronic illness may restrict the amount of time a person can commit to their work; forcing it beyond this load may only worsen performance. Offering a part-time position can take some of the responsibility off their plate while giving interns a chance to learn and immerse themselves in company culture. Job sharing arrangements may also be considered if there’s a pool of employees who are interested in part-time flexibility.
While employers certainly need tasks to get done, exploring options for increased employee flexibility can find an arrangement that works both ways and keeps valuable talent within the company during a difficult time.