Flexible working is hugely important for Canadian employees, a survey from Regus Canada has found. Sixty-one per cent of respondents would turn down a job that offered no flexibility, and 39 per cent would have stayed longer at a position if flexible working had been an option.
“Managers who allow employees to set their own work hours show a level of respect and trust in one’s work,” says Wayne Berger, vice-president of Regus Canada. “Perhaps the employee knows they get their best work done earlier or later in the day. Success should be about measuring an employee’s output and results, not time spent in the office.”
Respondents found working from home brought all kinds of benefits, such as being able to bike to work, having a mid-day nap, and having more time to spend with friends and family because of shorter commutes. Respondents also believe flexible working leads to better health (78 per cent), more frequent visits to the gym (69 per cent), and higher levels of mindfulness (66 per cent).
“I travel a lot for work and our headquarters is [in] downtown Toronto,” Berger says. “However, when it makes sense for me and my team, I will work closer to home from our Oakville location. This means I get 1.5 hours back in my day to go for a run and spend time with my family. I meet others in our Oakville office who do the same when they don’t need to be in their downtown office. Working from a flexible workspace gives them more time in their day to get work done and do the things that matter to them most.”
To make flexible working feasible, employers should begin by setting out parameters, says Berger. “Make sure there is a mutual understanding about how it’s all going to work — what are the expectations and deliverables and how often should [staff] touch base?”
It’s important to check in with employees regularly to build trust, though as teams become accustomed to flexible working, daily updates can turn into weekly updates, says Berger, though he still recommends face-to-face meetings every so often, whether at the office or over lunch, to maintain productivity and enthusiasm.
Employers should also tap into technology such as Skype, texting and FaceTime to keep connected with staff working remotely, and to help staff develop good work spaces outside the office, whether at their homes or at a business centre. “The coffee shop is not a good place to work during the flex time, and neither is the couch in front of the TV in your PJs,” he says.