The future of work is flexibility, and for many, it was an unwelcome surprise

In the last few years, many organizations have granted employees the ability to adjust their start and end times, work certain days from home, and “allowed” for unlimited personal time off. These are all considerable changes but for many, they long for more. The common theme amongst all these initiatives is flexibility.

In 1869, President Ulysses S. Grant issued a proclamation that established the standard for an eight-hour workday.  It is hard to believe that most organizations today are still following this same model from 150 years ago. With all of the innovation we have experienced as a society, the one thing that has not adjusted is the notion that to be productive, you must work a set schedule and report to the office. 

With our current predicament, the silver lining is that organizations are now in a position to examine what it would look like if their teams continue to work remotely, and for the most part, have more autonomy over their schedule. Flexibility in location and schedule allows individual team members to make time for family and self-care, creating a more pleasing and appealing work/life balance. When you have happier employees that are motivated to focus on the mission, you will ultimately get the best from them, generating the most significant results for the organization.

Despite all the benefits of flexible work, I know many of you are probably considering the negatives. The main ones that come to mind are:

  • Accountability
  • Wasting company time
  • Sleeping on the job
  • Falsifying activity

These are all valid concerns, but I will ask you this: If you cannot trust your people, why do you keep them around? In my experience, the people that could not be trusted were also the ones gaming the system while in the office. Making sure their numbers looked good enough to fly just under the radar. The good news is, now that talent pools are no longer limited to the immediate area, you can acquire team members that can be trusted and want to help you on your mission.

Employee flexibility is not just positive for the individual; many benefits can be found for the organization as well. Evidence suggests that organizations that allow employee flexibility experience higher productivity, and are less likely to experience employee turnover. When organizations no longer have to worry about having a physical office, they can reduce their overhead by not having to pay extremely high rents and increase their access to talent that is no longer geographically inaccessible. With less overhead and a larger pool of qualified candidates to choose from, it will be easier for leaders to identify and locate the specific skills and talents they require at any given point in time. When your organization can focus on outcomes rather than monitoring activities, we all win.

It is going to be interesting to see the companies that embrace the future of work and empower their people after the restrictions are lifted. Zillow Group recently announced they will continue to test the remote work model until the end of the year and reevaluate. Mark Zuckerburg announced last week that Facebook will be hiring more remote workers indefinitely, opening the aperture to hiring the world’s best talent wherever they may choose to live. Smart move Zuck!

Undoubtedly, sweeping policy changes like those aforementioned will give forward-leaning organizations a competitive edge and a healthy boost to their employer brand. Who else is going to do the same?