You Think You Understand Flexibility—But You Don’t

SITE You Think You Understand Flexibility, But You Don't
Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

The world of work continues to transform at breakneck speed, but as companies everywhere look to embrace the #futureofwork, one area in which they’re still woefully unprepared is creating a more flexible work environment for all.

At Werk, we’ve spoken with thousands of companies about structured flexibility, and it’s become abundantly clear that the majority of companies think they understand flexibility when they actually don’t. That’s one of the reasons why we created FlexMatch™—a tool for you to identify the flexibility gap in your organization.

Here are five of the reasons why companies are getting structured flexibility wrong:

1. You don’t understand the definition

Flexibility is not a reduction in scope, responsibilities, or expected results. Flexibility is a modification of traditional work structures to create compatibility between the needs of the employee and the objectives of the employer. There are numerous types of flexibility that can be used to achieve compatibility, and they extend well beyond remote work.

2. You confuse it with the gig economy

Workplace flexibility also isn’t gigging. While the gig economy is flexible in nature, it is markedly different from structured flexibility. Gigging involves contract work and reduced compensation and benefits as a result. Structured flexibility, on the other hand, doesn’t change the nature of the work itself, it simply modifies how that work gets done in order to enable employees to be more effective at work, and employers to benefit as a result.

3. You assume one size fits all

Employers often throw blanket terms over flexibility, assuming flexible work automatically means remote work or part-time work. Employees have diverse needs and there is a diverse set of flexibility types that can be used to create compatibility between those needs and the objectives of the employer. In addition to remote work, the Flexiverse also encompasses TimeShift™, MicroAgility™, TravelLite™, and DeskPlus™, to name a few.

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4. You utilize transactional flexibility

Too often, flexibility is treated as a personal favor for the employee who is requesting it. As a result, companies put flexibility policies in place in a one-off, transactional capacity. At Werk, we profoundly believe that flexibility can and should exist for every employee in some form and that the organizations who do this well will find that the results are transformational, not transactional.

5. You don’t communicate or market your flexibility

Eighty percent of companies actually have some form of flexibility program today, but only 40 percent have structured or documented practices, so uptake is low. Even if you consider your company culture to be flexible, do employees fully understand what’s available to them? Do they take advantage of it to maximize their productivity, health and wellness, and caretaking abilities? And what about outside of your organization—are you leveraging flexibility to attract talent that may otherwise go elsewhere?

Workplace flexibility is grossly misunderstood, and as a result, companies are failing to leverage a key strategy to attract, engage, and retain top talent. If you want to learn more about how structured workplace flexibility can help your organization, visit werk.co/for-employers.

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