The traditional idea of where we should be working, a four-wall office with a desk, has radically been changed today. Regardless of the type of office, they all have a construct revolving around an outdated work model that valued the number of hours spent in an office over the quality of work. However, today, you can have a more flexible working environment, thanks to current technology and modern communication systems. Now, you can collaborate with your colleagues wherever you are in real-time via devices like mobile phones, social media networks, and virtual conferences. Because of this, many businesses have been urged to reflect on things like their portfolios, communication channels, and funding needs.
COVID-19 has impacted the way we perceive what a modern office should look like and how we do our jobs. Most people are now used to the concept of remote working, so it will have an impact on the way we work. There will be a shift and some employees will need to be in the office while others may never appear in the office again, as the emphasis is put on the quality of work.
So, if you’re wondering how flexible working hours impact the future of business, keep on reading to find out.
Before reflecting on the effect of flexible working hours on the future of business, we first need to define the term. Flexible work is the term used to depict anything differing from the traditional structure of working from 9 to 5, five days a week. Flexibility is all about the freedom of employees to choose the time, place, and how they can accomplish their distinct roles. This term is referred to all forms of part-time work, remote working, freelance, and portfolio careers.
The pandemic and flexible working have contributed in the improvement of employees’ productivity. As people’s commute times are almost non-existent, flexible work has taken over. If employees are aware of their daily tasks, working from home isn’t perceived as an obstacle, but in fact as the possibility of them being even more productive and engaged. Furthermore, flexible working provides larger firms with the possibility to form virtual teams, in which different team members meet up from all over the world on a single platform. Now, there’s no need to contact just any team member in the office to do a certain task, but the most qualified person to do it, wherever they’re located.
Even though we may not be able to speak with our team members in person, platforms for video conferencing like Zoom and Microsoft Teams provide us with the possibility to collaborate with all of them in one space. Therefore, team members feel both more productive and also more connected with the organization. Using these platforms is a much better way to engage with employees as well since everybody can fit in the Zoom room and ask questions. This creates a much more intimate atmosphere and the whole leadership team can be present in the same place. Discussions held in this way tend to be more efficient since everybody gets the chance to be heard, even introverted team members that otherwise feel uncomfortable speaking in person.
The concept of remote working has broken down some traditional hierarchies, which further makes the employees more productive. The number of layers in the organization has been brought down, which is caused by the approach to work that’s more based on projects. By removing some of the traditional and hierarchical ways of working and creating something that is more cross-functional and project-based, your whole work method will change, which is the main advantage of the concept of working from home.
Regardless of the many advantages of remote working, some tasks are still better done in the physical workspace, from welcoming new employees to collaborating. When it comes to collaboration and innovation, the office is still the best place to do those tasks. By sitting together in a room, you can see the colleagues’ reactions to your proposals, which makes the collaboration process much easier. Also, a lot of innovative ideas happen when you bring great minds together and brainstorm for ideas. It’s still difficult to come up with new ideas, by just sitting in front of a camera.
To carry on working flexibly, the right kind of planning will need to take place. By opting for a non-full remote working model, you can make sure the right people are in the office at the right time. Firms need to keep in mind the time when team members should be brought together into the office. For example, teams could plan their meetings around important tasks such as welcoming a new employee and the whole team could benefit from spending time in the work environment.
Since most people got used to working remotely during the pandemic, it will be difficult for them to adapt to working in the office again, especially as each employee may have different needs, from homeschooling children and taking care of sick relatives to managing their mental health. For example, while some employees will be required to be in the office just twice a week, others will need to be in the office most of the days. And there will be people who might never have to come to the office. Managers will need to provide support and allow flexibility for the different needs of these people, depending on the type of work they do and their location.
Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into the many benefits of the flexible working environment and flexible working hours as well as the reasons why they represent the future of business.