Can Flexible Work be the Answer to Employee Happiness?

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Flexible work for happiness

All businesses want their staff to be happy. After all, a happy workforce is a productive, loyal, and creative one. Could flexible work lead to both higher employee satisfaction and productivity?


2020 forced our working environments to change drastically, and many companies discovered that employees' happiness improved. Flexible working gives employees a sense of agency and a better work/life integration. In fact, Direct Line predicts that more than 13 million people plan to ask for permanent flexible working arrangements in the future


Can flexibility really be the answer to employee happiness? A further study by Workplace Insight suggests that staff would actually take a pay cut if it meant they had flexible working opportunities. Below, we examine the reasons why.


Better Work-Life Integration


Giving staff the option of flexibility in their schedule is acknowledging that life gets in the way sometimes. Wherever possible, allowing your staff time to complete life tasks makes them feel valued and autonomous. Even just having a few hours of flex-time in the workday can mean taking things like school drop-off into consideration and making your employees feel that their needs are valued. This will make them more likely to return to their desks full of motivation – rather than full of resentment because they feel that work doesn't consider their personal obligations. 


Green & Blue Spaces


Offering flexibility in employees' schedules allows them to build in exercise time. When you spend considerable time commuting each day, it can be hard to find the motivation to exercise. But more time in the day spent at home gives you the chance to prioritize exercise and health. When exercise takes place outside, it can provide a real boost to your well-being, which also creates better focus and positive results. We have all felt the value of time spent outdoors during the national lockdowns. Even a short daily walk can make a huge difference in productivity and overall well-being. 


Increase Trust


Smart employers have already figured out that work happens in the mind and is not tied to specific offices or locations. If you allow your employees flexibility, it shows that you trust them to get the job done regardless of where the work is completed. People like to feel trusted and valued in their work, as this study by Google suggests. Trust engenders trust, or psychological safety, which is one of the key factors in mental well-being. Firms that empower their employees reap the rewards of a happier, more productive, and more committed workforce.


Micromanaging does not work. You cannot watch over employees and expect to achieve the best results. Remote work has proven that people can still deliver positive results. Work on this trust and start to shift your mindset. Remember, you don't have to see people doing work to know that it is getting done.  


Promotes Questioning


Being empowered to choose their working style and hours [within reason] encourages people to question the way things are done and feel confident in offering alternative suggestions. Harvard Business Review states that content employees are three times more creative than their discontent counterparts, and 30% are happier in their jobs than those working on-site. Creativity breeds questioning and problem-solving, which perpetuates the culture of trust and positivity.


Saves Costs


Employees and employers alike always enjoy saving money. Flexible work can reduce the cost of commuting and the expenditure on buildings, meaning everyone benefits. Companies may look to adjust their rental lease agreement template to reflect the changing work environment.


The modern, flexible work environment has a positive impact on both employees and employers. Employees have more freedom, save money on commuting, and gain more time. At the same time, employers benefit from costs saved on rent/mortgage of office buildings, as well as a happier, more balanced, and more productive team. Giving your staff the option of flexibility shows them that they matter, which provides them with a sense of safety, and there is nothing that makes us happier than feeling safe.


Do you want to build a more resilient remote team? Our Adapt & Thrive workshops for remote teams can improve your team's productivity, effectiveness & sense of progress.  


About the Author

Hubert Day

Hubert Day is a freelance content producer and researcher from London. Apart from his projects, he also attends different conferences and events on business marketing, SMEs, ethical standards, and sustainable tourism.


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