Employment

Why Employers Should Embrace Flexible Working

Employees spend more than eight hours a day in the office, that's around five years of their lives. Because of this, it's important to keep staff stimulated and motivated in order to achieve the best results for your business.

By 2020 we could have up to five generations working side by side, a situation unlike any before and these generations are worlds apart in what they expect from their place of employment.

The silent generation (born from 1928 to 1944), the baby boomers (1945 to 1964) and Generation X (1965-1977) are used to traditional office settings. They were introduced to the workplace before technology took off and are used to cellular (private) offices or, more recently, long open plan office spaces.

However, due to the rise in technology use and aging population, the workplace as we know it is changing rapidly. Both of these types of office space are now viewed as out-dated and an ineffective way of working.

The more recent generations, Millennials (1978 - 1994) and Generation Y (1995 and upwards) are used to technology. Generation Y is the first generation to have grown up constantly surrounded by technology, the onslaught of social media, and communicating constantly online.

Because of technology, many people now work from tablets or laptops rather than the traditional desk top computer, it is now possible to work more flexibly; hence these generations have come to expect increased work options.

It is no longer the norm to have a job for life, employees have more choice about where to work and many employers are adapting rapidly, allowing staff options to work when and where they want.

Flexible working is beneficial for both the employer and the staff. Firstly, it keeps costs down for the employer. Employers are often shocked by the amount they spend on unnecessary space around the office, most offices have a vast amount of circulation space, tons of storage space, the contents of which never get looked at and many unused meeting rooms. When you look at how office space is charged for, by the square footage, employers can potentially be spending thousands on redundant office space

Flexible working also helps the employer retain the experience of older generations who may be due to retire and keep knowledgeable women in the workplace. Having increased options may encourage this section of the workforce to work part-time or enable them to work from home. Over the past 80 years women have become integral to the workplace, however both junior and senior women may need to take time off for maternity at some point. Flexible working can enable them to still play a part in the organisation, unlike before, reducing costs for the employer and enabling the mother to stay connected with her employment. There is also a consensus that for all parties flexible working can reduce stress, which is proven to increase productivity.

However, there still needs to be a connection with the office, a full-time home working employee with limited interaction with the workplace can start to feel disconnected, hence productivity can drop. Also, the older generation, those in managerial roles, can be sceptical about flexible working due to the lack of immediate control over their employees and may need some convincing before accepting its advantages.

How to incorporate flexible working into good office design

The key to keeping costs down and employees happy is successful office interior design. Before redesigning your workplace you need to decide what the strategy of the business is. Working areas should be designed to meet the needs to the job, allow employees to work at peak performance and enable the company to expand.

The traditional way to design an office was to ensure that everyone had a desk, however, this is no longer strictly necessary. The nature of work is also changing, most work is project based, people are participating in collaboration work and more time than ever before is spent in meetings.

Office designers are now creating office spaces to support the different generation gaps, different personality types around the office - it is never one size fits all, and a completely new way of working. However, these office interior designs are proven to reduce costs for employers considerably. A traditional cellular office provided around 70 settings in a 7,500 sqft area. However, a modern office, accommodating flexible working, collaborative working and hot desking provides for 118 settings. This can save the employer nearly 100,000 over 10 years per employee.

To increase employee motivation and loyalty, designers are creating workplaces to accommodate both open plan offices and flexible working. Offices are being designed with lots of natural light, adjustable seats for posture, relaxation area and barriers for sight and sound top reduce distractions, they also have lots of sensory control as in heat and controlled aromas. Hot-desking, a concept introduced on ships where sailors worked shifts and shared a bunk to reduce space, has also become popular. Research shows that good office design can reduce costs of one employee over 10 years by around £100,000, this is incredibly important for the financial sustainability of companies.

It is the employers that are able to adapt to the new requirements of their staff, the continual leap in technology and are able to please their more experienced, older staff that will remain productive. Those that don't may find themselves struggling to retain staff and wasting thousands.

Shared by officeprinciples.com

A post by Lee Parsons (2 Posts)

Lee Parsons is author at LeraBlog. The author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views and opinions of LeraBlog staff.
Lee Parsons is the marketing manager for Office Principles, a leading office interior design specialist, based in Reading.

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