Does it matter where you work from? Let’s reimagine workplace flexibility.

Flexibility is a broad term when it comes to the workplace. While employers cringe at the sound of it, employees celebrate at the thought of having it.

The debate is if you offer flexibility where employees have better control over the when, where, and how in work, then productivity and performance levels will suffer. Performance and productivity is a great matter of concern in start-ups, where a high octane workstyle is normal. Start-ups usually deal with a finite window of opportunity where every hour and day counts, and people believe flexibility can conflict with that performance. 

However, being flexible will not hinder your growth, and it does not threaten your success. It does not contradict high productivity or performance levels. Some of the standard practices giving the misconception that they cannot attain flexibility are last-minute changes to important meetings or when decisions need to be made instantly by someone with specific expertise. The company culture itself may also be in-person and face-to-face.

You can overcome this false mindset with a more thoughtful leadership approach and build a stronger foundation toward the culture you hope to achieve. How can you start? I’m glad you asked.

The Untapped

Buy into the idea that presenting the employee with an opportunity to design their schedule builds a progressive and overall better culture, which adds value. Many companies consider it a strategic move for attracting and retaining talent. Opening the doors to an untapped pool of talent can create revolutionary leaps in a company’s success. A recent U.S. analysis done by Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs revealed that 80% of workers considered flexibility a non-monetary way to attract and retain employees and would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible arrangements.

Allow Presence Without Being Present

Redefine productivity from ‘presenteeism’ to output. The need to be present and face-to-face for a fixed amount of hours is not better than formulating output measures that show a member completing a project on time, or a team working well together, or if a presentation is of high quality. Ultimately, work is what you do, not a location.

Get Used To The “F” Word 

Flexibility that is; and welcome it in your workplace. The year 2020 force-fed organizations flexibility and change. No one was ready for it, and people were itching to get back into the office. Nothing is usual about how we’ve been working lately, so your business operations will require adaptation. Leaders should continuously fine-tune arrangements to fit everyone’s goals and purpose.

If flexibility for any reason, whether during a pandemic or paternity leave, is met with unsupportive leadership regardless of the flexible policies put in place, then you are still contributing to the norm that work comes first above all. The fear of being stigmatized and marginalized in career advancement causes people to neglect other priorities. What you get is a culture built on burnout and lies. The growth journey will require a conscious effort to develop a flexible environment and culture, then embodying and committing to it. In the face of setbacks, flexibility is not your problem.

Be Unconventional

Harness the power of creativity and innovation. We know it works for business success and the culture of the company. We also know that the old mindset of trying to fit ourselves into a company or with others eats away at our eccentricities, which are crucial to who we are. If your organization conforms to the past constraining ideas that routinely places everyone in a rigid box, it will not produce great work. Your workforce desires a culture that allows them to be their most creative and innovative, and strategy alone will not accomplish this. In the words of Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” So create one that allows flexibility and gives birth to brilliant minds.

If the word flexibility still bothers you that much, let’s call it diversity of thought and experience. That willingness to cooperate and adapt will make you a great leader, give you the mindset to perform at a greater level, and take your company to higher grounds.

Maha Barakat

Maha Barakat

A long time content developer, editor, and marketer with a great appetite for helping people realize their awesomeness. Having been a critical part of several publications and entrepreneurial pursuits, Maha has never shied away from a chance to inspire others.