3 Benefits of Workplace Flexibility

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Do you want to improve your work-life balance, save time and reduce the stress from commuting? Who doesn't? The one answer to achieving these results is right under your nose, and it won't cost you or your employer a dime to initiate.

Today's workplace is incredibly demanding. Companies haven't been replacing laid off employees, leaving the remaining employees to pick up the pieces. This created discontent, disengagement and disconnect or mass exiting. Now, employers are finally concerned about acquiring and retaining talent. As a result, many are making changes to how and when employees report to work.The FlexJobs fourth annual Super Study contains important takeaways for employers and employees. Responses from more than 2,600 survey participants, across all age brackets, indicate employees are looking for greater work flexibility. Companies serious about attracting and retaining a productive workforce are listening. Job seekers and employees, take note: You are likely to see changes coming to a company near you. Here are some of the benefits:

Loyalty. What is one thing that would make you more devoted to your current employer? Flexible work options would make 82 percent of the survey's respondents more loyal. So what are flexible work options? This could mean working remotely, telecommuting some of the time, part-time or freelance work or an alternative work schedule. Loyalty makes for better employees who go above and beyond. Companies may not be able to put a price tag on loyalty, but they know it when they see it. It's a win-win for employees and employers.

Quality of life. What would positively impact your quality of life? Ninety-seven percent of study participants reported that a job with flexibility would do the trick. Working a job with a flexible work schedule would lower stress levels, according to 87 percent of respondents, and more than three-quarters of them believe it would make them more healthy.

Productivity. If you really needed to complete a project, where would you work? Seventy-six percent of workers avoid the office for important tasks, according to the survey. Half said working from home is a better option, because it eliminates distractions and interruptions from colleagues. Additional reasons to want to work away from the office include minimizing office politics and stress associated from commuting. And others report working from a home office is more comfortable.

How to lobby for more flexibility at your job:

If you are no longer in love with your current job, perhaps you can rekindle your affection for your work and employer by investigating the possibility of a flexible work schedule.

Dig through your employee handbook for any formal policies on work schedules. There may be company standards you should know about. But also bear in mind that there may be exceptions. In other instances, companies may leave work scheduling up to the individual managers.

Next, ask around to see if anyone in your company is working an alternative schedule. Ask the employee about how his or her manager views the quality of his or her work, how other team members feel about the situation and how your colleague negotiated an alternative work schedule. If this doesn't apply to anyone working in your company, ask these same questions of anyone you know who works a nontraditional schedule.

Finally, plan the conversation you intend to have with your manager. Start by laying out the productivity benefits for your manager and the company. In other words, explain in quantifiable terms how you will be more productive. Be prepared to overcome any objections from your manager.

Remember: Your conversation is a negotiation, not an ultimatum. Let your manager process your suggestion and, if necessary, resume the conversation later. If you don't win the negotiation, you really haven't lost anything. In fact, your conversation may pave the way for your manager to adopt new guidelines in the future. Instead of waiting for change to occur at your company, this may be the impetus for you to begin looking for a new job elsewhere.

A final point: Be wary of work-from-home scams you see promoted on websites, and never put down your own money to get started. Instead, ask around, and look for employers who have a track record of allowing employees to work alternative schedules. FlexJobs lists both companies known to be flex-friendly and legitimate jobs.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She is the author of "The Infographic Résumé" and co-author of "Social Networking for Business Success."
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