Flexible working may seem like a “fad” or a “trend” right now but it’s actually been around since the 1960s and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, recent research has supported and outlined the benefits of this working method ranging from increased productivity to overall company profitability.
The original “flexitime” first kicked off in Germany in 1967 when it was adopted by an aerospace company called Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm. The company introduced the concept to 3,000 admin, research and development workers in its Munich headquarters in a bid to reduce the “clocking in/off” lines each day when everyone finished at the same time. Prior to this, the company had seen more and more workers clock off early just to avoid the queues, therefore having a negative effect on productivity all around. Needless to say, morale wasn’t great either.
An innovative personnel manager called Herr Hillert solved the problem by offering variable working hours — a system which he called “Gleitzeit”, meaning flexible working time. Five years later, in 1972, 6,000 of his 20,000 employees were using Gleitzeit and the company was saving 40k a month on average. Productivity increased, absenteeism decreased, and recruitment became easier in the process. Unsurprisingly, this also had a positive effect on the employee commute.
Hillert’s success quickly spread and more companies began to introduce the system so that by 1973 flexitime as being used by most labor force companies in Germany and throughout Europe. In the same year, an American company called HP became the first US company to implement this system in its German office.
Workplace flexibility is fast becoming an expectation rather than an exception amongst employees. The “fad” mentality has disappeared as more and more companies embrace the concept and provide employees with flexible working opportunities. These workers believe that this flexibility increases their overall productivity and this belief is backed up by research conducted in this area in recent years. This is a way of working that empowers employees to do their best at work without compromising their personal lives and responsibilities in the process.
Studies have noted significant improvements in productivity and morale when employees are given the option to work remotely and/or according to the schedule that best suits their requirements. And research by Modis revealed that 50% of employees would opt for flexibility over unlimited vacation or free childcare when it comes to job perks. Even more intriguing were recent findings by Harvard Business Review reported that revealed 88% of workers would be swayed them from a higher-paying job to one that paid less if flexible working hours were available.
According to a July 2017 study: “The Impact of Flexible Working Hours on the Employee’s Performance”, employee flexibility enhances performance and the profitability of an organization in addition to boosting the morale of employees, job satisfaction, and efficiency. In general, employees were found to be less stressed than their 9–5 counterparts.
“Flexibility in working hours brings convenience to the individua’sl life which reduces their work stress and improves their mental and physical stability due to which they work effectively and efficiently and with determination and coordination”. — International Journal of Economics, Commerce and Management United Kingdom Vol. V, Issue 7, July 2017
However, it must also be noted that this was due to the choice they were given re: work flexibility and some workers do thrive more in a 9–5 environment.
If you’ve ever worked in an office, then I’m sure you’ve at some point experienced the “when will it be 5pm?” blues. You die a productivity death around 3pm and start counting down the minutes whilst sifting through emails and not being entirely productive or at your best. But when employees are given the option to work within their peak productivity times, this just doesn’t happen. As a result, they output quality work in less time by focusing on key outcomes rather hours clocked.
The reality is that some people work better in mornings, some work better in afternoons, and some are complete night owls. Allowing people to work within their peak productivity times guarantees the best results. If you’re wondering when you’re most productive, check out our guide to assessing this in our post: How To Figure Out When You’re Most Productive.
You’d have to be blind not to notice the insurgence of online task management and collaboration software that’s become available in recent years. Whilst this is being developed in response to a real demand in the workplace, it has also become a key driver in the work flexibility movement.
Buckets itself was set up on the basis of a genuine need for digital task management software that can fulfill a range of requirements from in-house collaboration to working within a partly or fully distributed team.
Whether you want to work and travel the world or simply work directly from your home office, task management software is the holy grail in managing your work projects and collaborating with colleagues and clients anytime, anywhere.
If you’re currently a flexible worker we’d love to hear more about how you manage your work and time and how this has affected your life as a whole. Leave a comment below to share your flexible working story and help others who are seeking a similar setup!