Here is a guide to flexible workforce examples.
Flexible workforce examples are workspaces that emphasize the ability to change how and when employees complete their tasks. Examples include flextime, shift swapping, and annualized hours. Understanding this practice is important because it helps companies maximize workers’ capabilities and increase team members’ productivity.
This article covers:
- meaning of a flexible workforce
- examples of flexible workforces
- flexible workforce benefits
- flexible workforce advantages and disadvantages
- tips for managing a flexible workforce
- flexibility at work examples
Let’s get started!
Meaning of a flexible workforce
Flexible workforces are becoming more common in most economic sectors. We can define flexible workforces as a means of working that suits an employee’s needs while ensuring that workers remain productive. These arrangements offer employees the right working tools while reducing operating costs for entities. With a flexible workforce, employees do not need to work the traditional 9 am to 5 pm. When well implemented, flexible workforces offer unmatched benefits to employees, employers, and customers.
Examples of a flexible workforce
As the world experiences technological innovations, organizations worldwide are embracing flexible workforces. However, designing a flexible workforce can be tricky. Companies must consider factors such as technology, employee expectations, and collaboration.
Flexible workspaces are excellent ideas for companies that want team members to create a healthy work-life balance. While these working arrangements may seem uncertain in the implementation stage, you can expect increased employee retention and a reduction in business operating costs. From job sharing to staggered hours and work-from-home arrangements, here is a list of workforces that can offer inspiration for entities that want to implement flexible work arrangements.
Here are examples of flexible workforces:
1. Work-from-home arrangements
As one of the most common flexible workforce examples, work-from-home arrangements have become a favorite among employers and employees. These arrangements allow workers to center their work around other life aspects instead of planning their lives around work. Team members can collaborate via online platforms such as Skype or Zoom. While working from home, employees can also avoid long commutes and use the time to complete pending tasks or home chores.
However, before you implement a work-from-home arrangement, we advise that you check in with your team. You may find that some workers cannot be productive at home and prefer to work from the office. However, most businesses report increased employee job satisfaction and productivity in a remote work setting.
Check out these guides to work from home policies.
Flextime is a working arrangement where workers get to choose their ideal working hours. In this setting, employees can select the start and end of their workday and breaks per the working policy. Flextime allows employees to achieve a work-life balance and organize their work schedules around commitments and other personal errands. Flextime is one of the best options for employees looking for family-friendly working spaces and workers who commute to work every day.
With a flextime arrangement, companies provide core hours when employees must be at work, for instance, between 10 am and 3 pm. Employers often give a two-hour window around the core hours to start or finish work. For example, with 10 am to 3 pm core hours, companies may require workers to start work between 7 am and 10 pm and finish between 4 pm and 7 pm.
The only limitation to flextime is that it can be challenging to implement in some industries, such as healthcare or production facilities. Companies must also invest in good record-keeping software and precise meeting schedules.
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3. Job sharing
Job sharing entails the splitting of one task between two or more employees. The flexible workforce example is a fantastic idea for complex projects that can take a toll on one employee. Companies can also choose job sharing in cases where specific tasks have a short deadline. With the option to work half weeks, alternate days, or alternate weeks, job sharing allows employees to exercise more flexibility in their tasks.
4. Compressed hours
Also known as condensed schedules, compressed hours are flexible arrangements that let employees work for the same number of hours within fewer days. For instance, companies could have a three-to-four-day work schedule. However, employees are still required to complete their weekly or monthly hours. Compressed hours offer workers more flexibility to carry out other tasks during the extra day off. You could let employees enjoy three-day weekends by taking Mondays or Fridays off.
5. Annualized hours
Annualized hours allow team members to work for specific hours within the year. This work arrangement is ideal for companies that have varying busy seasons. For instance, some departments may be slow during the summer and hectic around the winter. Rather than having variable work schedules for every department, annualized hours allow employees to plan their work year-round.
6. Shift swapping
Shift swapping is an excellent flexible workforce example for shift employees. For this work arrangement, team leaders give workers the flexibility of organizing shifts among themselves. Companies can adopt a shift-swapping policy to avoid the complications of the shift-swapping work arrangement. You could include factors such as workers who cannot cover specific shifts, deadlines for shift swapping, and how teams will confirm the swaps. Also, be sure to have reliable time and attendance software to track employees’ hours and facilitate trades. Shift swapping offers each employee work flexibility without involving the management team.
Here is a list of employee scheduling software to assist the process.
7. Phased retirement
Phased retirement is a flexible workforce idea for employees approaching retirement age. For this arrangement, employees who are about to retire will continue working with a reduction in their regular workload. The workers can then transition from full-time and part-time to fully retired workers. Companies can choose to implement phased retirements with a gradual reduction in working days or hours, seasonal work arrangements, or job sharing. Phased retirement is also a fantastic way to keep an income stream for workers during the transition. Retirement phasing also helps retirees deal with the stress of not working gradually.
8. Staggered hours
Staggered hours is a work arrangement where employees have varying start and finish working hours. However, each employee must meet their daily working hours. Staggered hours can ease peak hours congestion on public transport. This working arrangement can also minimize large groups of employees arriving, leaving the office, or gathering in rest areas simultaneously. Given the variations in each team member’s daily routines, staggered hours enable remote employees to work when they are most productive. The staggered hours idea is excellent for entities with a large workforce.
9. Hybrid work model
A hybrid work model is an arrangement that allows workers to combine offsite and onsite work locations. For instance, companies can implement policies requiring employees to report to the office once or twice weekly. Employees can then work remotely on other days. Another common hybrid working model offers employees the flexibility of working entirely from the office or remote locations. The hybrid work model addresses the challenges of remote working arrangements, such as isolation from colleagues and the lack of community.
Check out this list of hybrid team building activities.
Flexible workforce benefits
A flexible workforce may be a great start if you want to maximize your team’s productivity. Flexible workforce arrangements prioritize the completion of tasks rather than the amount of time that employees sit behind the desk. While workplace flexibility can vary across industries and companies, participants get several benefits.
1. Improved work-life balance
The lack of a work-life balance is the most significant contributor to work stress and unproductivity. With flexible workforces, employees can divide their energy and time between personal activities, family, and work. A better work-life balance also means employees do not burn out since team members can take necessary breaks and pursue interests outside work. The extra time outside work also allows workers to devote time to physical and mental health and reduce life stressors.
Check out this list of work-life balance tips.
2. Saves time and money
With flexible workforces, employees can save time and money and channel these resources to more productive areas. For instance, offering workers flextime can reduce the commute time to work. As such, employees get to work when they are most productive. Work-from-home arrangements can also save employees commute costs such as gas, parking, and other vehicle-related costs. These work arrangements can also help workers save money that employees would spend on takeout meals by eating at home.
3. Increased employee satisfaction
Heightened employee satisfaction is one of the main benefits of flexible workforces for employers and employees. By offering employees certain freedom, workers get a sense of responsibility and do not require constant supervision. High levels of employee satisfaction will foster a cohesive and productive work environment. Employers do not stress team members’ productivity with a satisfied workforce.
Check out this list of job satisfaction statistics.
4. Attraction and retention of top talent
A positive and flexible workforce is key for companies that want to attract and retain top talent. Flexible workspaces show that companies trust their workers to complete tasks without micro-management. As a result, workers are more likely to make efforts to respect and adhere to company policies. Higher employee retention rates reduce regular training costs and ensure a high return on investment.
Here are more employee retention strategies.
5. Reduction of operation costs
A flexible workforce can help entities reduce operation costs. For instance, with a work-from-home arrangement, companies can reduce operating costs like rent and utilities, food, and cleaning services. A flexible workforce reduces the costs associated with constant hiring and training since the rate of employee retention increases.
6. Improved workplace diversity
A flexible workplace is a clever strategy that companies can use to increase diversity in the workplace. With flexible work arrangements, companies do not need to hire workers from a limited local region. Instead, entities can get a wider pool of employees across the globe. A wider pool of employees means businesses get access to the best talent, which increases the chances for business success. Inclusive workplace culture also creates a homely feel for all employees and enables learning opportunities for all stakeholders.
Read about the benefits of workplace diversity.
Flexible workforce advantages and disadvantages
With the advancement of online communication and collaborative tools, companies continue to move towards flexible work arrangements. These work settings offer many benefits to employers, employees, and customers. Employees enjoy work flexibility and a better work-life balance as entities save up on operation costs.
Here are some advantages of a flexible workforce
1. Offers employment opportunities for greater diversity
With a flexible work structure, companies can access workers from a wider pool of demographics. For instance, students work part-time and gain vital industry skills as new parents get a chance to work and still care for their children. Companies can also benefit by accessing talent without geographical limitations.
2. Increased employee productivity
A flexible workforce ensures that employees can choose working hours that promote creativity, concentration, and innovation. As a result, companies reduce the use of resources during downtimes.
3. Promotes employee wellness
A flexible workforce is one of the best ways to promote employee wellness. Your team is more likely to achieve a work-life balance, increasing productivity. Promoting employee wellness also reduces workers’ absenteeism and reduces mental health issues.
Here is a list of employee wellness program ideas.
4. Reduction in overheads for employers and employees
A flexible work arrangement can reduce overhead for both employers and employees. Employees who would need to commute to work may save on travel costs. Workers who get to work off-peak hours could save time that they would spend sitting in traffic. Employers also benefit from flexible workforces by saving on costs such as office rent and equipment.
5. Boost employee morale
Employees do not feel tied to their offices with a flexible work arrangement. As such, workers can get in as much work as possible within a short time frame. Team members also get a sense of loyalty to the company, leading to a rise in working morale.
Check out this list of employee morale boosting ideas.
Despite the advantages, flexible workforces also have various disadvantages. Companies may struggle with creating a strong organizational culture as employees struggle with workplace isolation. However, with the right implementation strategies, entities can work around these challenges and achieve a balance in a flexible workforce.
Here are some disadvantages of a flexible workforce
1. Employee isolation from their colleagues
Social isolation is a major disadvantage of flexible workforces. Workers could miss out on casual group lunches or informal brainstorming sessions depending on the work arrangement. Rather than scrapping a flexible workspace, companies could prevent workers’ isolation with work arrangements that allow team members to meet every so often. For instance, entities can encourage camaraderie between workers with team building activities.
Check out this list of virtual team building activities for work.
2. Blurring the home-work-life balance
While flexible workplaces aim at improving workers’ home-work-life balance, it can be difficult for team members to maintain a clear distinction between work and home. You may find your team members work late into the night rather than enjoying the downtime. It can also be difficult for team members to communicate, especially when working different hours.
3. Communication challenges
Flexible workforces mean that employees have varying working hours. As such, the arrangements can pose communication challenges for teams. Team leaders may find themselves in a fix when coordinating work meetings. Companies can prevent communication challenges by having clear flexible workforce policies. For instance, team leaders could set meetings in timeframes when all workers are available.
Check out this list of communication books.
4. Reduced employee benefits
Some forms of flexible workforces may lead to the reduction of employee benefits. For instance, workers may get lesser salaries and pension contributions with fewer working hours. Employees may also miss out on workplace events such as training when some team members are not at work.
Here is a guide to employee perks and benefits.
Tips for managing a flexible workforce
One of the significant challenges that businesses face when implementing flexible workforces is managing employees. While workers may prefer flexible work arrangements, productivity may be negatively affected, especially with the wrong structures.
Here are some tips for managing a flexible workforce
1. Create a standardized flexible workforce policy
Having a flexible workforce looks admirable on paper. However, without a clear flexible workforce policy, companies might report unproductivity and time mismanagement from their workers. For best results, organizations should establish clear guidelines and expectations for each working arrangement. Be sure to include specific terms such as working hours, remuneration, and mandatory deadlines.
2. Have regular team building activities
With a flexible workforce, employees may not meet up as often compared to the traditional work arrangement. Therefore, we recommend that you schedule regular team building activities where team members will interact and have fun outside the office. Be sure to encourage each employee to open up to their colleagues within what is comfortable and appropriate. Regular team building activities can strengthen relations among your workforce and foster personal connections.
Check out these benefits of regular team building activities at work.
3. Have appropriate technology to support a flexible workforce
Flexible workforces rely on technology to connect to other team members and record working hours. Companies should have the proper technology to support each work arrangement. For instance, if your employees work from home, then utilize online collaborative tools.
4. Avoid micromanagement
While it can be tricky to trust workers who are not within your reach, companies should avoid micromanaging flexible workforces. Trusting your workers to carry out their tasks will give them a sense of responsibility and increase productivity. However, entities still require regular work reports from all team members.
Read about micromanagement.
5. Make data accessible on the move
A flexible work arrangement enables your team to work even when on the move. Hence, companies should offer team members an avenue to access their work even when on the go. Luckily, entities now have access to various mobile-compatible systems and cloud technology.
Here are some online collaboration tools for business.
6. Encourage collaboration among your team
Collaboration can be a challenge with a flexible workforce. We would encourage team members to prioritize regular communication between team members. You can facilitate collaboration with regular virtual meetings and even face-to-face discussions.
With innovative technology and the increasing demands of a modern workforce, working patterns have become flexible. Businesses looking to capitalize on their workers’ capabilities could consider a flexible workspace. However, even with benefits for both employers and employees, running an effective flexible work arrangement can be cumbersome, especially in the implementation stage. With this guide, employers can browse different types of flexible workforces and even get tips to manage these working arrangements.