We’re on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and as quoted in Forbes recently “it’s going to cause significant disruption in the way in which we work”. Why? Because it’s being driven by technology which is allowing us to break free of geography. As a business owner or manager you need to be asking yourself: is your business ready?
Collaboration tools like Microsoft’s Office 365, Slack and Google Hangouts along with mobile phones and laptops make it possible to work from anywhere. In fact, 60% of knowledge workers* in Auckland could potentially work remotely one or more days per week**.
It’s the way that Gen Z already operates and it’s what Millennials want. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that within 10 – 15 years the generational shift will disrupt the way we work, as Millennials take the reins as CEOs.
Like all good things, shifting to a flexible workforce takes time. Address the need for change now and trial what works for you and your business before it’s too late. If you need some ideas to get your creative juices flowing, here are five great flexible working initiatives that might provide you with some inspiration:
- Summer Fridays – if your employees have achieved what they need to by Friday then why not give them Fridays off to enjoy the longer days over summer? From 2012 to this year, there’s been a 43% increase in the number of organizations globally touting summer Fridays as a specific work benefit, according to Gartner’s survey. If you’re worried about the impact it will have on productivity then cast those fears aside, because research from management services company ADP shows that 66% of workers who take advantage of summer Fridays say it increases productivity.
- Empower Hours: Cotton On added their own flavour to Flexi-hours by introducing “Empower Hours”. They have core hours from 10am to 4pm and as long as their people still cover their 38-hour-week within their working week, they can work this across any times they want – as long as they’re available between these core hours. Giving people the freedom to achieve what they need to before work and after work gives people more control of their time, helps reduce stress and burn-out and makes them feel empowered at work.
- All Roles Flex: This initiative makes flexible working the norm rather than the exception. It gives people choice in where, how and when they do their work. Telstra introduced “All Roles Flex” and they’ve seen very positive increases in engagement and employee retention. It allows staff to do whatever is required of them in the times they prefer. People who have flexibility feel a sense of reciprocity – they want to give back to the company.
- Lifestyle leave – The Warehouse calls it Lifestyle Leave, GHD calls it 50/52. Whatever you want to call it, this initiative offers team members the option to adjust their salary to take extra time off throughout the year to spend with their kids, go on holiday and reduce the need for childcare etc. Team members can apply for an additional 10 days leave that they can take over and above their 4 weeks annual leave.
- Unlimited Annual Leave: If you want to take it one step further then you might want to follow in Richard Branson’s footsteps. He introduced unlimited annual leave for all Virgin His reason being that if our work hours aren’t being logged, why should our holidays be? Virgin allows all salaried staff to take time off whenever they want for as long as they want, and they don’t have to get approval or keep track of their days away. The only condition is that employees must only take leave when their team is up-to-date on projects and when their absence won’t damage the business.
Ironically the solution to make flexible working succeed in your business is to add structure to the flexibility. Start by talking to your employees to find out what motivates them. From there you can start to shape your flexible working strategy and the supporting framework. Now is a good time to start so that you’re ready to roll our your new policies at the start of summer.
If you need advice or support to introduce flexible working into your business then give the team at Freerange Works a call on 0800 04 FLEX or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Knowledge workers include anyone working with information for a living; e.g. software engineers, physicians, pharmacists, architects, engineers, scientists, public accountants, lawyers, and academics, and any other white-collar worker.
**Source: Future Auckland: The Current and Predicted Extent of Flexible Working, NZ Work Research Institute, 2015.