02 Jan 2018 03:13:54 PM

5 Things Employers expect before offering Flexible Work Arrangements

To keep up with the changing culture of the modern workforce, more companies now offer Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs) to remain competitive as attractive employers. In fact, when the right FWAs strategies, such as the five documented in The Winning Formula report are correctly implemented, it becomes a win-win situation for both employers and employees. 
Having FWAs benefit not just working parents, but also millennials, who now stand as the largest generation in the workforce. However, many employers have a number of expectations before offering FWAs to their staff, holding firm that FWAs are a privilege for employees and not a right.   

To align expectations from both employers and employees, we line out the 5 key expectations from employers when offering FWAs
1. Productivity
Some employers still believe that productivity and work quality will be negatively impacted with FWAs. Distractions and lack of pressure at home may deteriorate employees’ focus and ability to service clients, thereby increasing cost. However, studies show that employees on FWAs are more productive, driven and focused to complete their work when their personal needs are tended to. Especially considering the reduced stress and time wasted from commuting.*    

On the other hand, employees on FWAs should also demonstrate that productivity is not compromised. With the rise in mobile technology, staff are easily able to communicate and remain accountable to their employers from wherever they work. Technology creates opportunities for new forms of collaboration and productivity; independent of the traditional office-based work. Furthermore, due to the lack of distraction and need to take frequent breaks employees on FWAs can focus on deadlines and deliver high quality work because they are not waiting for the timer to go off at 5pm, as explained in TalentCorp’s The Winning Formula.
2. Reliability
Some managers believe it would be difficult to monitor their employees’ performance if they are not at work and supervise their teams’ different schedules. Workers must be able to demonstrate little or no supervision before being offered FWAs.  A good track record and commitment to results can earn FWAs, which can be extended to new employees over time. To minimise the possibility of abuse, both supervisor and employee should agree on expectations and create a system that works for them.  

Ultimately, employees remain accountable for their deliverables and outcomes, while supervisors motivate them to achieve more. Employees should know that flexibility is not a right, but a sign of commitment and trust.**
Shareen Shariza Dato' Abdul Ghani, TalentCorp CEO speaking about flexibility and getting back to the workforce at the Career Comeback Fair 2017
3. Fairness
Certain staff roles such as administrative and support services cannot be telecommuted, or require access to special equipment while probationary employees require close personal supervision. FWAs practices may differ across employees based on a variety of factors, including the nature of the work assignment and employee needs.  

To cater to the different dynamics of job-scopes and roles present in many organisations, there are different types of FWAs such as "FlexTime" "Flexplace" and Job sharing***. Employees should be aware of FWAs that are offered in their organizations to promote a fair flexible work practice in the organisation. 
4. Flexibility
With advances in technology enabling constant connectivity, employees may feel work intrude unfairly into personal life or family time. When granted flexibility with work to juggle their personal commitments, employees should be flexible with their employer needs as well. 

However, the expectations from both ends needs to be reasonable as well, i.e. no late-night calls & requests or unrealistic deadlines to name a few. Arrangements on deadlines and compromise on timing has to be discussed between employees and their supervisors. As such, flexibility comes with great responsibility.
5. Communication
Managers often worry about reaching and hearing from their employees on FWA, who may not always be available or present. By granting flexibility with work, workers need to be available after hours too. With proper guidelines and clear procedures on check-in times, hours of availability and provision of electronic tools, employees and employers can maintain communication and responsiveness with FWA.

With the predominance of Gen-Y in the workforce and Gen-Z coming in the near future, FWAs is the way forward. For it to succeed; employees, managers, and Human Resource offices need to work together and compromise on finding the suitable FWAs to meet the goals and needs of each individual applicant, thereby preparing their workforce for the future.

More information on The Winning Formula can be found in the MY Work, MY Future report here.

* Data sourced from MY Work, MY Future: Embracing the Winning Formula for Flexible Work Arrangements (FWAs), 2016, TalentCorp.
** Data sourced from Leveraging Workplace Flexibility for Engagement and Productivity, 2012, SHRM.
*** In November 2016, PwC launched three new initiatives under their enhanced “flex+” programme. These are extended paternity leave, “FlexTime” and “FlexFriday”.