Gone are the days where employee productivity is expected to transpire between 9am and 5pm. We live in a world where companies are slowly allowing some flexibility and liberty in the workplace.
More and more companies are allowing their employees to work at their own pace at a schedule of their choosing.
And as businesses continue to adapt to a post-pandemic world, this flexibility is likely to become more common in certain fields, argues Alexa von Tobel, founder and managing partner of Inspired Capital, a venture capital firm.
She envisions some computer-based teams being able to work asynchronously for many of their tasks, logging on to work on projects when convenient, no matter where they are located in the world. But offering even a little flexibility with when employees are expected to do their work can be a major benefit to their overall job satisfaction—and their productivity.
“We’re all wired differently,” says von Tobel. “Some people are morning people, some are night people. Some need quiet, some need energy. Now there is more of an opt-in, choose-your-own-work-style, rather than everyone having to sit in a bright office.”
Of course there is no one-size-fit-all answer to all the conundrum about flexible work. But at least for some professional and skilled office workers in fields like tech, public relations, and consulting, experts argue that it doesn’t make sense to be chained to a desk from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday, especially if their companies are embracing remote or hybrid work policies.
Offering flexibility to employees has its benefits. Employees may be able to adhere to a better sleep schedule, work when they are most productive, and feel like they have control over their own time, instead of being at the mercy of their manager. Von Tobel says flexible arrangements would be particularly powerful for parents and caretakers.
Von Tobel, however, stressed that it is important not to fall into the flexibility trap. Flexible work schedules have the tendency to require employees to work beyond their work hours. Many people can finish their assigned work in less than eight hours; in a flexible arrangement, they might be given more work, rather than fewer hours.
Dawna Ballard, a professor at the University of Texas says instituting a “results-only” work environment and limiting meetings on certain days, for example, would help companies make the shift to successful flexible time arrangements.