Are Flexible Workplaces Bad for Business?

One common incentive provided for staff is the opportunity to work remotely, particularly Flexible workplaces help attract talent but can engender collaboration challenges.from the comfort of their own home. Is offering employees this kind of flexibility beneficial or detrimental to business, though?

These days, it may seem in vogue for companies to make their workplaces as unique as possible. Between the increasing number of offices that have dismissed dress codes altogether and those that offer perks such as a constant supply of snacks or craft beer, the sky’s the limit in terms of attracting talent and keeping employees satisfied.

One of the more common incentives provided for staff is the opportunity to work remotely, particularly from the comfort of their own home. Is offering employees this kind of flexibility beneficial or detrimental to business, though? Experts have voiced mixed opinions when it comes to answering this question. While some believe it to be efficient and good for the corporate environment, other say flex schedules can prove detrimental to companies’ efforts to meet their overall goals unless they enact explicit employee training programs to outline requirements of working from home—and then enforce those policies.

The Benefits of Working from Home

According to Forbes, employers who decide to offer workers the possibility to work from home at least occasionally make themselves more desirable to highly-skilled employees who appreciate the freedom of a flexible schedule. They also broaden their applicant pool as geographic location is no longer a limiting factor.

“It’s enabled me to steal away top talent from competitors, without having to increase their pay,” said Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse. “It’s contributed to a highly engaged workforce with a company culture that won Best Place to Work awards. The benefits to me have far outweighed the hassles.”

Of course, companies aren’t the only ones in favor of flexibility in terms of location. According to the source, Microsoft polled employees about their reasons for loving work from home, and answers emphasized the freedom and convenience the situation provides for staff. Some of the most frequent responses included how the policy aligned with a worker’s ideal balance between his or her career and home life, and the increased time with family it allowed.

Employees also said that working outside of the office, they found themselves to be more productive, due to a quieter atmosphere, less stressful environment, and fewer distractions. Staff members with a lengthy commute particularly voiced appreciation for the opportunity to eliminate the time spent traveling or stuck in traffic, as well as the money saved on gas and minimizing their impact on the environment.

The Detriments of Flex Schedules

Despite promoting flexible working policies, Kruse admits that the system can have flaws when employers are too lax about enforcing results requirements. Experts at Seyfarth Shaw LLP bolstered this argument, pointing to a variety of ways in which work from home situations can decrease productivity.

According to the source, many companies fail to outline policy for flexible working situations, assuming that in-office requirements translate to any location. This can lead to misunderstandings between employers and workers about what exactly is expected during time out of the permanent workplace. Initial staff training and development should include exact guidelines for working from home, and this information should also be available in an easily-accessible online or print handbook.

Another major concern for businesses with remote or flex-schedule workers is determining what additional resources employees will need for their position that the company will be required to cover. This information may be stated explicitly in contracts with permanently out-of-office workers, but also merits a place in written policy standards regarding occasionally remote employees. Including it here helps an organization estimate and control total costs spent on flexible work schedules, and prevents any tricky situations with employees when it comes time to reimburse them for costs of working from home.

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