As recently reported by My Business, figures from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency suggest that more than half of businesses have some form of policy around flexible working, but just 16 per cent actually have a strategy in place to make the policy a reality.
George Mylonas told the APS College of Organisation Psychologists Conference in Sydney that workplace flexibility is often viewed as a work perk, rather than a business strategy.
The reason for this, he said, is because many employers – both public and private – believe productivity will suffer, despite a wealth of evidence that the benefits employees feel from flexibility in where and when they work has tangible positive impacts on their employer’s bottom line.
“The most significant benefit for employers is that remote work improves productivity because there are fewer distractions and employees are better able to concentrate. Plus, employees have enhanced autonomy and control over their work environment, including how they dress, lighting, temperature and background noise, which enhances job satisfaction,” he said.
“For employees, remote work provides more time to balance work and family responsibilities. What’s more, since remote workers are not subjected to direct face-to-face supervision, they experience increased feelings of freedom.”
Mr Mylonas also noted the reduction in lost output that results from employees running late as a result of traffic congestion and commuting times.
What can employers do?
Embracing the full benefits that workplace flexibility has for businesses will require a culture shift, where results – rather than presence – become the core focus of an employee’s output.
“Concentrate on managing objectives and set specific performance targets, time frames and communication guidelines so remote workers know what’s expected,” Mr Mylonas said.
“Employers should assist managers to change their perception of remote work by outlining the benefits and providing information on how it is a strategic business tool, standard operating procedure and legitimate way to conduct work rather than an employee perk or exception.”
He added: “There shouldn’t be any difference between managing remote workers and non-remote workers.”