How to build a flexible work culture even when you feel you can’t.

Offering employee’s flexibility is no longer a choice, it is an expectation. Flexible work environments are growing in popularity and are a competitive advantage to attain top talent. But what if the nature of your work doesn’t allow you to create a flexible work environment? How do you create flexibility when you can’t offer work from home options? This is a challenge many leaders face, especially in organizations where some departments have more flexibility than others and leaders find themselves playing the “bad guy” as they can’t offer the same perks of other departments. Here are 4 tips to create flexibility in the workplace when there are set hours.

  1. Flexible work hours. Create flexibility by offering the option for employees to have flexible start and end times throughout the week. For example, instead of a 9 – 5:00 pm schedule, allow people to work 9 – 5:00 pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and an 8 -4:00 pm schedule on Tuesday and Thursday. While it may seem like a small adjustment, the flexibility can allow employees the opportunity to find time for appointments, to exercise, support their kids’ extra-curricular activities, among others. By doing this you are also showing them that you are trying to make accommodations that can support the constraints of the job.
  2. Compressed work week. A compressed work week allows employees to have an additional day off by working more hours during the work week. For example, instead of a five day, 40-hour week, allow employees to work four 10 hour days. While the workday may be longer, employees will have more time to decompress and manage their lives outside of work.
  3. Cross-train and job rotation. If one department lends itself more easily to flexibility than another, create a job rotation between the two by cross-training. Train individuals on both roles so you can ensure you always have coverage if and when someone needs to take time off. Job rotation is also great for morale, it can keep work exciting and fresh as employees aren’t always doing the same work. Job rotation is also great for succession planning as you are not as vulnerable when someone leaves because they are not the only employee with institutional knowledge.
  4. Increase vacation time. Many companies like Linked In, Evernote, and Netflix are offering an unlimited or “take what you need” vacation policy. While this may not be an option, try to think about how you can increase time off. If you are in a department where you are unable to offer flexibility in the work week, increase their vacation time. This is especially important if you are in an organization where other departments are offering flexible benefits that you cannot. By giving additional vacation employees will be less frustrated by their lack of flexibility because they know they are getting more time to do what they need.