Impact on diversity
Workplace flexibility can even have a positive impact on workplace diversity by allowing more working parents — especially working mothers — to stay in the workforce or rejoin after having a child. Fast Company profiles emerging startup Werk, but there are a number of startups and recruiting platforms cropping up to address the need for greater flexibility. Werk, PowerToFly and the MomSource Network are just three that are matching employers who offer flexibility with job-seekers who are looking for the same.
Workplace flexibility also allows organizations to recruit and hire from outside their physical geography, and thus access a wider and deeper pool of tech talent, says Dennis Collins, senior director of marketing at West Unified Communications Services, which develops unified communications technology to facilitate greater workplace flexibility
“You can increase your talent pool, because great talent doesn’t just live in one or two specific areas. You can increase your business through sales if you have sales talent in a variety of regions. There’s also benefits specific to remote work, in that you’re reducing your overhead. You’re not paying for square footage, commuting costs, all of those administrative and on-premises infrastructure costs if you’re facilitating remote work. Sure, people need a laptop or other tools, but that becomes a fixed cost,” he says.
Shifting to a more flexible workplace strategy doesn’t have to happen overnight, and it doesn’t have to be complicated, says Collins. Organizations can start by easing into flexibility a little at a time, where it makes the most sense, and then see how it goes before jumping in with both feet, Collins says.
“We look at flexibility as needing flexibility in and of itself; it’s not binary — all on or all off. There are times — like at the beginning of a project, a major kickoff of a new initiative; celebrating finishing a big project, that kind of thing — where you need to be together for that collaborative, synergistic energy, but then you can taper it off. You can have touchpoint meetings; telepresence, or through conference calls, collaboration tools like Slack, Yammer, all of these technologies like ours mean the entrenched habits of forcing people to be in a seat isn’t necessary. It’s about outcomes, not output or time spent,” Collins says.
Be flexible about being flexible
Workplace flexibility can also take different forms based on the unique structure and needs of your organization and of your individual workers, says Anne Donovan, people innovation leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers. PwC’s journey toward a more flexible work environment began seven years ago with conversations about how to help people better integrate work and life.
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