While it may seem obvious an agency called Night After Night wouldn’t subscribe to a typical 9 to 5 workday, I think flexible hours can work for lots of different companies. Why can’t your employees come in an hour late to avoid a nightmare commute, or leave a little early to spend time with their kids? Why can’t they write a presentation from the comfort of their home?
In all honesty, it took me a minute before I came around to being more flexible with our peoples’ time. I’d polled the team about what we could do to improve the agency and many responded ‘flexible hours’. At first, I was nervous – if our employees didn’t have to come in, would they ever come in? But we trusted the team and after three months, I can say the results have been great; People seem both happier and more productive. What I know now, that I didn’t before, is that implementing ‘flexible hours’ has given our employees the freedom and space to do work on their own terms, and it’s one of the most impactful things we’ve done to improve our team’s culture and quality of work.
Enforced hours are arbitrary and dated in today’s work environment. If you’re looking for a way to boost performance and morale in one fell swoop, implement ‘flexible hours’! Here’s why:
1 – Our brains need space to do creative work. I don’t need to tell you that we’re all ‘always on’, always available, and always checking our phones, email, texts, Slack, and social media. Yet, these distracted conditions prevent us from doing our best work. In order to truly be creative, we need to tune out distraction and focus. Think about the most successful people you know in your life. Are they looking at their phones all the time? The world we live in requires us to be connected, but not as often as we think. Adopting a ‘flexible hours’ policy provides individuals with the freedom to carve out chunks of time when they aren’t distracted so they can focus on their work.
2 – A little space, please – They may look cool, and they may be ‘fun’, but research shows that open office spaces aren’t necessarily the best places to get work done. As Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking points out, these workplaces are endlessly distracting, and aren’t conducive to getting focused work done. Worse, Jeffrey James notes, “Introverts (who make up 50% of the population), feel anxious and drained by the inescapable presence of other people.” What a drag!
At Night After Night our offices are vital to our existence: it’s our hub – a place for us to come together, collaborate, meet and check in with each other, and to solve problems. Yet, having the option to work somewhere else, when you need some quiet time, is equally important.
3 – Flexible hours fosters a trusting environment. I believe this is the most important result of our policy change. Before, when we told our employees exactly when they had to be here, I think we were also subliminally saying to them, “We don’t trust you to get your work done on your own time.” Now, by granting people the autonomy to choose their own schedules, I think we’re also communicating to our employees that we trust them to accomplish what needs to get done on their own terms. Great teams are built on a mutual respect for each other, and we hope our new policy shows respect for their contribution and decision-making abilities.
Need more reasons to take the plunge?
· Dell’s flexible hours policy reportedly saved them 12 million in office space expenses
· As a key consideration factor for job seekers, it helps attract talent
· A recent study by Stanford Graduate School of Business, showed that when employees were given the ability to work outside the office, there was a “massive” performance improvement of 13%
The reality of our always-on world is that we’re available most of our lives. But a flexible hours policy provides people the freedom they need to do work on their own terms, and results in a happier team and better work.
Three key takeaways:
1. Keep the team meetings – Our Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning staff meetings keep everyone on the same page. Our bi-monthly meetings over drinks and dinner keep us connected to the company’s larger vision, and give us a chance to hang out and get to know each other better.
2. Communicate about it – We have a dedicated ‘Working From Home’ Slack channel, so that everyone knows when people will be out of the office.
3. Be creative with your offsites – Employees have hosted meetings at their homes, which has been great for camaraderie and building relationships.