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Why You Should Break These 4 Flexible Working Taboos

Written by

Laura Belyea


Flexible working has become too important to ignore. A recent Mercer study identified permanent flexibility as one of the top three factors that employees look for in an organization. Break these flexibility taboos and you can boost your employee experience. 

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1. It’s Not Just Parents Who Need Flex

When you think about flexibility at work, are you thinking mostly about the parents in your organization? One of the key asks from the millennial generation is to have flexibility in their working environment. Work-life balance used to be for those who have family and children, now it’s expected and valued by all generations.

Tradition You Can Smash: Be aware of any unconscious bias that you may have in your organization. Is your company more supportive of mothers than fathers? Or more supportive of parents than younger workers? Ensure that your flexibility policy caters for a diverse range of employees and their interests or responsibilities outside of work. 

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2. Goals Are Key to Flexible Working

Do you ever wonder if your work-from-home employees are actually working? If you are, then you’re missing out on a key piece of the puzzle: Setting clear goals. It’s important to have a workforce that is empowered to work flexibly, based on trust. Having a goal oriented structure is key to achieving this.

Tradition You Can Smash: Within some departments or roles, flexibility can only go so far, so focus instead on how the employee is renewing their energy. Personal lives are important – work/life balance can ensure that all your people can still recharge. Look at your health and wellbeing package to see if it’s fit for purpose and keep an eye out for burnout. 

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3. If You Don’t Ask, You Won’t Know

You might have flexibility written into your policy, but have you asked your employees what flexibility means to them? When you establish a culture of open communication with your employees, it fosters care and respect. It’s important to discuss work hours, daily routines and personal obligations. Protecting these obligations, such as a key employee taking two hours to attend their daughter’s school play, protects the important personal moments in their lives and makes them a priority. 

Tradition You Can Smash: Ask your employees what they understand by “flexibility” by using an online Stay Survey and find out how you can best support their needs. What most companies get wrong about flexibility is that they don’t walk the walk. Make flexibility a real and living value within your organization.

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4. Sometimes a Change is as Good as a Day Off

When employees start to feel overwhelmed and unbalanced, their productivity can go down, their sick days can increase and your business can lack the people it needs to succeed. Employees can fall into the trap of work and overtime and fail to recognize themselves. Strong personal lives outside of work reduce stress and facilitate creativity. You’ll want your employees to leave work and rejuvenate and come back beaming with creativity. Changing up scenery by having flexible schedules can reignite your employees.  

Tradition You Can Smash: Mental health is important and people don’t always do their best work at their desk. Support your people to take re-energiser days working out of a coffee shop, at home or in an innovative environment like a co-working space.

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