How to Keep Flexibility in the Evolving Workplace for Years to Come

Illustration: People put puzzles into a big light bulb.

By Jenn Choo, Director of Marketing, Theorem

Over the past 2 years we have witnessed some incredible changes in the way we live and the way we work. The call of millennials and Gen Z for more remote working options came to fruition through the lockdowns of the pandemic.  Businesses were cautious, unsure of the business outputs they could drive under the new working conditions.   As things began to stabilize and lockdowns eased, many employees realized not only that flexible working environments were possible but in many cases they were enjoyable and did not hinder an employee’s ability to drive results. A majority of companies retained remote and hybrid options to provide the flexibility their employees wanted and expected.

Employees have realized and made it known that they want flexible work environments where their overall wellbeing is prioritized over everything else and the culture is healthy and productive. If companies aren’t keeping up with the changing sentiments of employees…they risk losing them.

A greater emphasis is being put on employee retention but companies are still consistently asking themselves how? How can they ensure the happiness of their employees while continuing to drive business forward? The answer is twofold.

Firstly, today’s decision makers need to lead with empathy. Open communication and active listening are critical factors in employing an engaged and motivated team of professionals. While leading with empathy and maintaining open lines of communication are not new concepts to leadership, they have never been as critical to employee retention and satisfaction.

Successful leaders are the ones who are engaging with their employees on a regular basis, to ensure they feel supported and their wellbeing is always prioritized. Giving your teams flexibility to work in ways that best suit them allows them to balance their work and home life while still achieving their goals without burning out. Leading with empathy also provides an open and safe space for employees to ask for help or take a break when they need it.

The truth of the matter is, employees achieve their goals and perform their best when they are given the flexibility and support to determine what an optimized working environment and pattern looks like for them. A large swath of the modern workforce proved that they could pivot to remote or flexible working environments and not only maintain their workloads but in many cases achieve more and surpass their goals. Companies and leaders that recognize the old standard ways of working are not the most efficient and instead continue to evolve to meet the needs of the modern workforce are the ones who will see long term success and growth.

The other critical element to keeping flexibility in the evolving workplace is having benefits that reflect company values. Talking the talk is great but companies need to walk the walk and evaluate their benefits to ensure they meet employee needs. It’s one thing to say you offer flexible and remote working,  wellness programs, access to healthcare, etc, it’s another to actually evangelize these things and ensure they flow throughout your company culture.

Employees have always gravitated towards companies that have values and culture that are similar to their own. But now more than ever employees want to really feel that culture fit, be provided with benefits that prioritize their health and well being and they want flexibility to bring their skills to the table, execute their work and achieve their goals in a way that works best for them.

At the end of the day, the key to evolution is and has always been agility. Those who are willing to remain flexible and adapt to new and better ways of working will always succeed. As we look to the future of the ever evolving workplace, one thing is clear; employees want and need flexibility in order to thrive and their leadership is now tasked with not only providing that flexibility but maintaining and adapting it as the standard ways of working continue to change.

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