Makarios Consulting Blog

Workplace Flexibility – We’re Not in Kansas anymore

Recently, the Families and Work Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) began a partnership called Moving Work Forward. Its’ aim is to transform the way organizations approach workplace flexibility, and to show how flexible workplaces can benefit employers and employees and help employers develop workplace cultures that fully embrace and implement strategies that will “move work forward.”

Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, who had to adapt to a world that was quite different from the world she knew, business leaders are facing new technologies, practices and employee expectations that don’t always fit with their current ways of doing business.  Hank Jackson, CEO of SHRM, states “The global marketplace is creating new demands on business to recruit top talent from around the world, to understand and navigate competing cultures, and to be flexible enough to respond to challenges and opportunities on a 24/7 schedule. That means creating more flexible work environments that give people greater autonomy to decide how, where and when they do their best work.”

Dorothy found herself dealing with a new world because of bad weather – a tornado. The recent bad weather across much of the USA highlights how important adopting new workplace flexibility practices can be to a business. Companies with a traditional approach have only two options when faced with record-setting blizzards and icy roads: close operations for the day, or stay open and expect employees to commute in hazardous conditions. Both options are undesirable, leading to lack of productivity and unexpected expenses, as well as disgruntled employees who are forced to use a vacation day if they can’t get to work. Or, worse – employees who become injured or involved in an accident while trying to get to and from work in extreme conditions!

However, companies who adopt new strategies and embrace workplace flexibility concepts are impacted less severely by bad weather. For example, setting up processes to allow for remotely accessing systems allows many employees to work from home, even if they normally work at the business location. Establishing conference call capability allows for virtual meetings to take place, even when the participants are stuck at home or in an airport. Establishing and communicating policies regarding working remotely enables business to continue in a (more or less) normal manner.

While there are certainly many other reasons to embrace workplace flexibility, severe weather and hazardous commuting situations are excellent reasons to begin. To learn more about the Moving Work Forward initiative, go to http://www.shrm.org/about/news/Pages/FWIPartnership.aspx

2010 Makarios Consulting, LLC, www.MakariosConsulting.com

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