Workplace Flexibility

Workplace Flexibility

Workplace Flexibility: What It Means for Your Business

When it comes to the workplace, flexibility is not just a buzzword. It’s an integral part of how people operate in today’s society. At a time of technological advances and ever-changing demographics, workplace flexibility has become a vital tool for both employees and businesses. We live in a time when fewer and fewer people are willing to put their lives on hold for work. They want the ability to balance their professional and personal lives in a way that works for them. That’s where workplace flexibility comes in. It allows employees to have some say in how and when they work. The flexibility that employers give their workers helps them feel more valued which increases productivity and employee retention, thus boosting a company’s bottom line. But what exactly is workplace flexibility? How have companies been using it to their advantage?

What is workplace flexibility?

The definition of workplace flexibility can vary depending on who you ask. In general, however, it is the ability to work in a way that best suits the individual and their needs. This could include anything from working remotely part-time to taking flexible hours or job shares. The need for this approach has grown more critical than ever in light of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent mass resignations in the United States. In general, workplace flexibility boils down to three main concepts: place, time, and work.

  • Place: The pandemic transformed remote work from a nice-to-have to a must-have. While many organizations began employing remote work as a stopgap measure, has predicted that it will become “the new normal” for most organizations in 2022. Studies show that an overwhelming majority of employees would not want to return to a traditional office setup even if the pandemic ended tomorrow. They want to maintain their flexible work arrangements.

  • Time: With remote or hybrid work becoming the norm, the way we think about time is also changing. Work used to be confined to a certain number of hours in the day and the number of days in the week. Now, we can work whenever and wherever it suits us best—so long as we deliver the results our boss expects. The focus has shifted from the number of hours employees spend working to the quality and impact they deliver. According to a 2019 study by the International Workplace Group, 80 percent of employees would decline a job offer that did not provide them with a flexible schedule. In the same survey, 76% of employees said they would consider staying with their current employer if the work schedule was more flexible.

  • Work: Traditionally, most employees worked in an office environment and had a well-defined job description. The reality is that is no longer the case for many people. Work has become more project-based, and employees are often asked to do various tasks outside their job description. Employees are now expected to be self-starters and complete their assigned tasks regularly, which makes the ability to work from home a valuable asset.

Companies now have a staff-operated internal “talent marketplace” where employees may select and change assignments as they please. In a talent marketplace, departmental lines are permeable, and people may freely shift between departments to work on the projects they find most interesting. Even government agencies such as NASA have adopted this model and are reaping the benefits.

“Through NASA’s Talent Marketplace employees now have access to a wider range of internal career development opportunities at their center and across NASA,” reads a blog post on NASA’s website. “Research shows that access to opportunities and internal mobility motivates employees, provides for a better experience and builds engagement throughout an organization. Leading companies leverage an internal talent marketplace to motivate, develop and retain a strong workforce,” it adds.

How Are Companies Coping with Flexibility?

Organizations are increasingly tailoring their policies to better suit the needs of an increasingly diverse workforce. In addition to offering remote or hybrid work options and creating a talent marketplace where professional growth is more attainable, businesses have started to provide other benefits, including, most notably, the following two:
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: This could include telecommuting or working part-time, including on-site work flexibility through shared workspaces, job rotation schemes, and flexible hours. At a time when many employees are asking for a more flexible work arrangement, employers appear to increasingly be willing to grant these requests. With mass resignations, there seem to be only two options: either allow employees to work remotely or lose them altogether. Many companies now offer 4-day workweeks, for example. One such company is Primary, an online children’s clothes retailer, which has embraced 4-day workweeks since May 2020. The company’s full-time employees did not get a pay reduction, of course. The move lowered the company’s voluntary attrition rate by 7% last year at a time when record numbers of people were quitting their jobs in the U.S.
  • Parental Leave: This is another area where companies are starting to compete for top talent. In the U.S., notorious for its lack of paid parental leave, companies are beginning to offer more generous policies to attract and retain employees. In December, Morgan Stanley, a major US investment bank, announced an increase in parental leave to 16 weeks for full-time employees. In its most recent report, McKinsey suggested that both men and women be given parental leave at work, but it said a broader shift in corporate culture was needed.

“Creating an encouraging culture in which taking paternity leave is normalized and men can share their positive experiences is pivotal,” wrote the report.

“Fathers in our survey felt that having the right policy in place wasn’t sufficient if the work culture looked down on them for taking time off. Some pointed out that in many cases “the company was supportive, but the culture was not,” it added.

In brief, you should know that every company is different and can have its own set of policies in place. These two perks mentioned above are just examples. They may not be what your company needs, but the key takeaway here is that workplace flexibility is no longer just about offering remote work or telecommuting as an option. It’s about creating a workplace that can accommodate the needs of a diverse workforce. It’s about establishing a culture where every single employee feels valued and has the opportunity to grow their career. To ensure that your company is a place where employees want to work for the long term, you need to change your mindset: stop thinking like an employer, and start thinking like a leader. The best company cultures are those that focus on the employee experience and not just the bottom line. At the end of the day, happy and fulfilled employees are more likely to be productive and result-oriented.

About IIC Partners

IIC Partners Executive Search Worldwide ( is a top ten global executive search organization. All IIC Partners member firms are independently owned and managed and are leaders in local and national markets, developing solutions for their client’s organizational leadership and talent management requirements. For more information, please visit or contact Christine Hayward, Executive Director, at [email protected].