Guest Post: The Future of Flexible Workplaces

Who would’ve thought that a time would come when employees would be able to wear flip-flops to work, bring along their dogs or play volleyball at lunch? Well, employees at Google can do just that and much more. Are they more productive? Well, research says they are.

Experts believe that workplace concessions can benefit employees and can help maximize performance because they reduce stress, increase retention and promote loyalty towards the employers. In addition, being able to work flexible hours gives employees the motivation to make themselves available for an extended period of time without having the feeling of ‘working overtime.’

This was confirmed by a study conducted by Durham University in the UK. The findings revealed that flexible work policies that give more decision power to employees like self-scheduling or gradual retirement may positively influence their overall health and well-being. The study also showed that employees who had more control over their work schedule had better mental health, sleep quality, duration and alertness during the night as compared to those who did not work flexible hours.

Another study conducted by Alfred P. Sloan Foundation suggests that enjoying work schedule flexibility is a major psychological booster for employees. The findings indicate that employees working in a more family-supportive environment experienced lesser work-family conflict. This in turn led to greater satisfaction on both a professional and personal level.

The fact is that the advantages of flexible workplaces are not just there for the employees but also benefit companies. If people are healthier they are more likely perform better. Also, the healthier they are, the less would be business’s expenses related to medical and health insurance. Moreover when people don’t need to travel long distances to work, they are more likely to dedicate more time to work and be easily available for longer time.

Young startups have understood this quickly and are already implementing flexible HR policies in regards to working hours, dress codes and the overall perception of work. Many such companies now allow employees to dress casually and also hire freelancers for various jobs. For many such employers, it does not matter where you are or whether you work at a standing workstation or sitting comfortably at Rococo style desk as long as you deliver.

A statistical report by ADP, an HR services provider in the UK has suggested that 34% of the employees worked in non-traditional settings either from home or remote locations. Moreover, as a clear indication that innovative, more flexible labor initiatives have started to gain terrain, ADP points out that 70% of UK employees have manifested their desire for more flexibility in their working pattern

According to Ray Lindenberg, workspace industry historian, today’s professionals can now choose a workspace that closely meets their lifestyles and needs. For example hot desks and co-working have emerged as two modern and flexible alternatives to the office working environment.

Co-working spaces provide office facilities for remote workers. They are shared working facilities that are collaboratively used by a number of independent workers and small businesses. A large number of start-ups, small businesses, digital nomads, and lone workers are now utilizing the benefits offered by such co-working spaces. This is confirmed by a DeskMag survey on global co-working, which shows that the number of co-working locations in 2014 grew by 83% worldwide compared with the previous year while the number of users boomed to 117% more than in the past year.

Hot desking is another innovative business model built around workspace sharing. It is a novel way of organizing office space, especially smaller spaces. It reduces the amount of furniture and equipment and allows businesses and freelancers to set up their office at very low costs. The term originated in the naval industry and was then implemented by some businesses in the late 80s and early 90s. Today, more and more small businesses are adopting this model as these strategies offer better-value-for-money.

Overall, it is evident that the future of the workplace will be more flexible and casual. It will also be more productive and cost-effective and would offer advantages to both employers and employees.

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