How Flexible Working Boosts Productivity

Flexible working is a hot topic at the moment. Since the Covid-19 pandemic, many employers have been re-evaluating the way that they work and how to get the best out of all employees; flexibility looks like a great way forward.

In fact, in Gartner's 2021 Digital Worker Experience Survey, 43% of respondents said that flexible working hours has boosted their productivity. Furthermore, another survey by CNBC and Catalyst found that 76% of respondents wanted their employer to allow them to permanently work flexibly

But what exactly makes work flexible? How can flexible working improve productivity? And how can employers best implement this solution for their team? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the benefits of flexible work.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working generally refers to an arrangement where employees have flexibility over when and/or where they work. There are various types of flexible working arrangements, including:

  • Flexi-time: employees have to work a certain number of hours per day with a set 'core period' when everyone must be working, but they can choose when to start and finish their days. Some employees might prefer to work 10am-6pm, for example, while others prefer 8am-4pm, but everyone is working together between 10am and 4pm. 
  • Compressed hours: employees work a week's worth of hours over fewer days. For example, employees working a 40 hour week might work four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
  • Hybrid working: employees are expected to sometimes work from their workplace and sometimes work from home or from a cafe, library, or another public place other than their office space.
  • Part-time work: working fewer hours than a full-time job. 
  • Job shares: two employees work part-time to fulfil one full-time role.

In this article, we'll mainly be focusing on the first three categories of flexible full-time work. So, how does employers providing their employees with these flexible types of working impact productivity?

Employees can work when they're most productive

One of the benefits of flexible working arrangements is that they allow employees to adapt their work to their personal schedules and preferences. This means that your night owl employees may prefer to shift their work patterns back a few hours, enjoying late mornings and late evenings when they can do their best work. On the other hand, your early bird employees may prefer to start and finish earlier in order to get their best work done early in the day.

This is particularly useful for employees who have caring responsibilities. For example, consider an employee who works from the office three days a week but works remotely on Thursdays and Fridays in order to care for their young children after school. While they are still able to work on these afternoons, their productivity may be limited by the noise and distractions of their young children. With a flexible work schedule, the employee can choose to start work earlier on those days in order to be more productive before their children return home from school. 

Some employees might choose to adapt their flexible hours for a quieter and more relaxing commute that leaves them refreshed by the time they get to the office. Other employees might choose to start earlier and work later but with a longer lunch break in the middle of the day for a gym class, rejuvenating walk, meditation session, or time with family. This is beneficial to employee wellbeing and work-life balance. Consequently, the workforce that is more physically and mentally healthy, boosting their productivity as a result. 

By offering employees the freedom to make their workdays work for them, employers will quickly notice productivity improve.

Employees can work where they're most productive

Following on from the previous point, flexible working arrangements allow employees to adapt their work environment to find their most productive workspace. For example, you might have some employees who are easily distracted at home and therefore choose to come to the office most days each week. Other team members may benefit from the mental stimulation of moving between a range of environments: their office desk, the office breakout space or communal area, a library, and a coffee shop, for example.

This type of flexible arrangement is also known as activity-based working. ABW allows employees to choose from a range of different environments based on the type of work they are doing and the workspace they need. For example, they might sometimes need a completely silent desk with few distractions for focused heads-down work, and then later switch to the sofas in a buzzing communal area for a more laid-back and casual space.

Activity-based working recognises that people need different environments and different amounts of stimulation in order to be most productive. By providing the flexibility for employees to work from where they want, employers can encourage greater levels of productivity than if everyone had to work in the same space all the time.

The reality is that while there are many ways to help boost employee productivity, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. This is why allowing employees the flexibility to work in the ways that are most effective for them is the best way to ensure everyone is performing to the best of their ability. 

Flexibility means greater employee engagement

Another but less direct way that flexible working can lead to improved productivity is by boosting employee engagement. Flexibility is currently one of the most valued features of a workplace by many employees: one US report found that 63% of employees said that flexibility would make them feel more empowered at work and that nearly half said that flexibility about when and where to work was as important as traditional benefits such as paid time off. Moreover, according to McKinsey, three out of four employees said that having control over their work hours was a key factor when deciding to accept their current job.

It's clear that workers value flexibility. Providing employees with the flexibility they want is a great way for employers to keep employees motivated, engaged, and satisfied in their roles.

How does this link back to productivity in the workplace? There's a substantial link between engagement and productivity, with the most engaged teams seeing 21% greater performance, 41% lower absenteeism, and 59% lower turnover. An engaged team is a productive team; flexible working is a great way for employers to increase the engagement of the team. 

Want to implement flexible working? Start with a flexible workspace

If you're ready to bring flexible working to your organisation, a new flexible workspace is a great way to start. Flexible office spaces are workspaces that facilitate flexible and hybrid working, usually offering shorter and more flexible contracts than traditional offices. Here are some of the different types of flexible workspace that might benefit your team's productivity:

Coworking spaces

Coworking spaces are often hailed as the ultimate flexible workspace, allowing your team to rent a number of dedicated or hot desks in a communal workspace with other businesses and entrepreneurs. With meeting rooms, breakout and social areas, phone booths, and quiet work spaces, these offices are great for flexible activity-based working. Plus, many are open 24/7, allowing your employees to pitch up and do their work whenever they want. Great for collaboration, creativity, and networking with like minded workers, coworking offices are the ultimate flexible workspace. 

Serviced office spaces

Another great option for teams looking to implement flexible working is a serviced office space. These are a cost-effective solution for any employer looking for a fully equipped private office space where all maintenance, cleaning, security and more is handled by the provider. This means that workers can come and go as they like in order to do their most productive work. 

Semi serviced office spaces

Similar to serviced office spaces, semi serviced offices are even cheaper because they do not include as many amenities and services in the bill. This makes them a great option for organisations which are trying out flexible and hybrid working and don't want to foot the bill for an expensive private office that employees won't use. 

Managed office spaces

A perfect compromise between a traditional office lease and a more flexible space, managed office spaces are taken care of by a provider but still allow you to fully customise the office layout and design. These are great for teams that work flexibly but need a space that will feel like the business' home. 

Looking for your new flexible workspace? Future Squared is here to help. Our experienced office brokers have connections to landlords all over the UK, helping you find the perfect flexible workspace for unbeatable prices. We'll help match you with a selection of great offices in enviable locations – we'll even organise the viewings for a seamless search! 

Want to learn more about how we've helped businesses find their dream office space? Read our testimonials or get in touch. Alternatively, use our office search tool to browse the top quality spaces available in your chosen location.