Great Companies Clearly Show: Employee Flexibility Drives Innovation

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Jun 17, 2014

In successful organizations where employees are highly engaged and productive, producing the best work is no longer about putting in the most hours — what’s most important is getting employees’ best hours.

For some, it’s at 7 am with a hot cup of coffee and Beethoven No. 7. For others, the ideal work environment is midnight with a six-pack of Red Bull and Eminem.

These varied working styles may precipitate the need for more flexible scheduling, telecommuting options, or a more social atmosphere, at minimum. It cannot be understated, though, that employees need an environment conducive to their individual creativity and innovation.

Industry giants leading the way

To address this, Facebook is building its own apartment complex near its headquarters, exclusively for employees.

Engineers and programmers who tend to work longer, later hours can essentially come and go as they please, since they’re effectively living on campus. Google has been doing it for years, proving itself to be a benchmark company for work-life balance and employee flexibility.

The key elements

What Facebook and Google have is trust. Trust that team expectations will be met, and employees trust the company to give them creative freedom. Here are some ways employees can feel entrusted to perform at their best:

  • They aren’t micromanaged – Micromanagement is an often-stressed point, but in the eyes of a creative-minded person, it’s impossible to think on someone else’s schedule. After all, would you interrupt Bob Ross in the middle of a masterpiece to ask, “Hey, are we still on track to finish this painting?
  • Their managers and colleagues understand their working styles – Because creative-minded people don’t necessarily work best in a traditional 9 to 5 setting, a once-per-week work from home arrangement would be a nice start to a flexible schedule.
  • They know their managers are committed – Work flexibility isn’t worth much if an employee believes that the manager is looking for the first reason to revoke the benefit. This type of uncertainty is one of the fastest ways to lead to unnecessary stress and eventually, disengagement.

Better results and a better bottom line

The main takeaway is that when employees are empowered to work at their own pace, and sometimes on their own schedule, chances are good that not only will that deadline be met and the work completed, but the results will be reflected in the freedom and flexibility they had to be innovative.

Once that flexible work culture is in place, and both managers and employees are on board, what should result is an overall increase in productivity, results and eventually the bottom line.

This was originally published on the Michael C. Fina blog.