4 Trends Driving Workplace Flexibility

Ashley Acker PhD
March 11, 2009 — 1,126 views  

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Many organizations now offer an alternative to the traditional Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. A workplace is thought to be flexible if employees have flexibility in scheduling (e.g., flex time and compressed workweeks), flexibility in the number of hours worked (e.g., part-time or job sharing), or flexibility in the location of work (e.g., telecommuting, satellite office). With benefits such as increased worker productivity, greater ability to attract and retain talent, and higher employee morale, capitalizing on the trend of workplace flexibility is important to your small business success in the coming years. Here are four driving forces behind the push towards increasing workplace flexibility.

4 Trends Driving Workplace Flexibility

  1. Technology In the past we gathered together in office buildings during a standard 40-hour workweek because we had to physically be present to accomplish our work. Today, that isn't necessary because of all the advances in technology. Computers and laptops, cell phones and VoIP, the Internet, cloudworking and online collaboration tools, all enable us the freedom and flexibility to work from a variety of locations on our own timetable.
  2. Globalization Business has become increasingly global, thanks to the advances in technology. Internet access and e-commerce have changed many things; we now buy and sell our goods and services around the globe. We have offices, team members, customers, and suppliers residing in a variety of different countries and time zones. As a result, our business must be operational more hours in the day to service the needs of our global audience. Flexible work arrangements which allow employees to work a variety of schedules helps accomplish that goal.
  3. Demographic Shifts There are more women in the workforce and more dual-career couples than ever before. In fact, only 16% of families fall into the once common model of the man working outside the home while the woman stays home with the children. Dual-career couples are seeking flexibility in the workplace as an effort to relieve some of the work and family conflict they commonly face.
  4. Expectations of Generation Y Love them or hate them, Generation Y has some serious expectations when it comes to workplace flexibility. Flexibility in where, how, and when they do their work is more important to them than a high salary when job hunting. The Millennial Generation doesn't understand the "punch clock" mentality, will be pushing for shorter work days with a focus on increased productivity, and they don't buy in to the belief that flexibility is a perk or has to be earned--they expect it for themselves and everyone else from their first day on the job.

These trends will be a driving force behind workplace flexibility initiatives for the foreseeable future. Has your business adopted a flexible work arrangement that is available to everyone? I urge clients to adopt the ultimate flexible work arrangement: a results-only work environment (ROWE). In a ROWE, you are free to work where, when, and how you see fit - you have flexibility over scheduling, hours, and location of work. Regardless of which type of flexible work arrangement your business chooses to adopt, now is a great time to put it into practice because this trend isn't going away anytime soon.

© Copyright 2009 Ashley Acker

About the Author

Ashley Acker, Ph.D., WorkStyle Design Expert and ROWE Coach, works with small business owners and their teams to redesign work so everyone wins. Learn how to boost your team's productivity, develop a competitive advantage in your business, and enjoy unlimited freedom and flexibility with our FREE report, 5 Secrets to Change the Way You Work...FOREVER!

Ashley Acker PhD