The traditional office environment is undergoing rapid change. For instance, open workspaces that encourage collaboration, flexible working, and adaptability are more popular today than ever before.
As companies all over the world embrace hybrid work options they continue to think as to what more can be done to make their work environment more flexible, friendly, and accessible to attract the millennial worker.
As an HR professional, you play the most important role in shaping the workplace culture and environment. Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to create a flexible open workspace that meets the needs of both employees and the organization:
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1. Assess Your Current Workspace
To be clear, an honest assessment of current workplace practices, leave polices, hybrid work policies is your battle ground before you start planning for the future.
Workspace policies also differ by geographic regions with Africa and India clocking some of the longest working hours.
Before embarking on the journey to create a flexible open workspace, it’s crucial to assess your existing office layout and culture. Conduct surveys through focus groups, and one-on-one interviews with employees to understand their needs, preferences, and pain points related to the workspace.
These insights help you cement the gap in how the current workspace is structured and create better spaces.
For instance, in the chart below, you can see that workers in India and Africa work longer hours compared to their peers in Europe or the US. When introducing changes always look at the cultural fit regarding these changes.
2. Run the program as a trial
To be successful with your vision once you complete your research and have the results from surveys and focus groups, decide on which options to offer in the flexible work policy.
Then run the pilot for a trial period during which you can evaluate employees carefully.
In case of smaller businesses, you need to include people in from the start. Give your employees an opportunity to present additional feedback on the pilot. Make changes to the program as per this feedback.
Ensure that you always inform staff of new guidelines that need to be followed with the program. So if the engagement is lower, then probably the program isn’t working.
According to a Gallup study, flexible work improves employee engagement-this has meaningful impact on productivity. Engaged employees are more energetic and are healthier compared to peers. Years of research shows that improved engagement improves productivity. Engaged workplaces have 40% less problems, 41% reduced worker absenteeism and reported 21% higher productivity.
3. Make sure goals are met
When you ensure a new workforce plan is in place, also tie those to goals your company wants in the long run. Since these are long-term in nature make sure the workforce plan aligns with company’s growth goals.
These goals need to be established in the workspace policy to ensure you get measurable performance evaluations and the ability to revise them.
4. Constantly review and modify
You should always agree on a trial period whenever you grant a flexible arrangement to one of your employees. This way you can easily modify the arrangement if needed, or even call it off altogether.
This trial period could be for a quarter or a minimum of 3 weeks. This week you and your employees have a good view of the work required. This helps you iron out the kinks. Plus you can always use a feedback form to get the results, study and analyze them and make decisions.
Once the trial is over and you can decide on a new schedule.
Evaluate employee performance and satisfaction for 6 to 12 months.
- Modifications to make according to newly evolving job requirements
- Gradual decline in performance ratings
- Staffing changes
- Staff problems
- Client or coworker feedback
Here are some of the crucial insights you may get when you conduct these surveys.
For instance as you conduct your survey you may discover than your employees prefer an annual workcation also called a stretch of several weeks that give staff a way to work from home.
Always make sure that when you revise a work arrangement the process for that should be as clear as when you are starting something new.
This gives employees a predictable schedule of virtual work every year while also ensures their on-site presence for several months of the year. This also kills any complaints of employees missing the friendships and joy of working together as a team.
There’s a lot that can be achieved if you spend some time listening to your employees.
5. Flexible Schedules
Offering your staff choice of hours they spend in the office can encourage feelings of flexibility. Don’t be stuck on the 9 to 5 rut. Give employees flexible timings, say 3 to 7. That mentality of having butts in the seats isn’t great. The alternative allows workers to get their work done not by sticking to a strict schedule but when they are ready to get things moving. This makes them more productive.
In a survey conducted by Airtasker, it was seen that remote employees generally work for 1.4 days more per month. Office employees worked 37 minutes on average. Remote employees also lost about 27 minutes of work each day to distractions.
6. Improve Eligibility for WFH
Most companies only allow people in specific positions to be made eligible to work from home. It’s better to consider the benefits of extending the eligibility ladder. If a job can be performed from home consider expanding the eligibility of these WFH positions. Remember that workplace assistants need more workplace flexibility than managers so you need equitable access to allow remote work instead of allowing for remote work based on seniority or pay grade. However it’s also true that some jobs are difficult to carry out remotely.
So explore new platforms and newer tools to enable the completion tasks remotely.
7. Individualize Flexible Options
Since different employees come with different needs, employers that work with individuals according to a customized flexible plan will succeed better compared to competitors. One team member may like Saturdays off to watch football with his kid another may have an infant and they may prefer a Monday off right after the weekend. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all so focus mopre on customization. For your flexible work environment is a great way to create happy teams
8. Use technology to make things easy
Ensure that your workspace is equipped with the latest technology to support flexible work arrangements. This includes high-speed Wi-Fi, video conferencing facilities, and integrated project management tools. Technology should facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among employees, whether they’re in the office or working remotely, to enable effective remote presentations and ensure productive remote work experiences.
A study in the Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology showed that HRM flexibility can create more engagement in young employees and result in better job performance.
Develop a framework for measuring and managing performance in a flexible work environment. Emphasize outcomes and results rather than monitoring hours worked. Set clear performance expectations and regularly review progress through objective KPIs. With employer of record companies you can do this and more effectively.
9. Develop a Culture of Trust
Foster a culture of trust within the organization. Trust that employees will deliver results regardless of their location or work hours. Encourage open communication and mutual respect among team members, regardless of their work arrangements. There’s a mathematical relationship between improved trust and better economics of a company.
Promote openness and collaboration. Encourage transparent communication among team members, whether they’re in the office or remote. Celebrate successes and promote a sense of belonging among all employees, regardless of their location.
Creating a flexible open workspace in HR involves a holistic approach that considers not only the physical environment but also the people and culture within the organization. By fostering a workspace that prioritizes flexibility, collaboration, and well-being, you can create an environment where employees thrive and the organization adapts to the changing demands of the modern workforce.
Benefits of flexible working
Flexible hybrid working options provide your employees with many advantages such as:
Greater work-life balance
A more flexible workspace makes it easier for employees to attend to their family’s needs, obligations and life responsibilities. This gives them enough space to balance both work and life, creating work life balance. You can get your kid from school, conduct some exercise and other things. This balance increases your job satisfaction and this is likely to help them stay at your company for longer.
A more flexible schedule gives your employees a better sense of empowerment in their work schedule and environment. It reduces burnout risk for them and higher rewards for you.
A flexible work schedule gives your employees freedom to set their own hours. If they can get more work during the morning you can schedule things at that time If they complete work at night you can move their schedule to later hours.
Reduced commute time
If your office gives employees a flexible working arrangement they can save a lot of time in commuting from home to office and back.
Reduced childcare costs
Employees can reduce childcare costs if you work remotely. There’s some cost involved in terms of productivity because children can be a handful and it’s nearly impossible to work and manage children at the same time.