Out with the Old, In with the New: How to Encourage Flexibility at Work

By: Mary Ellen Nessmith

April, 2017



Over the past decade, organizations have evolved to accommodate a more fast-paced, mobile workforce. In 2017, perhaps more than ever before, we must rethink the way we utilize flexibility. Continuously refining your department’s flexibility practices helps you identify new and better ways of getting things done and fostering innovation. Over time, your team will become more efficient, meaning higher profits and lower costs. A flexible work environment gives employees more options, making it easier for them to lead fulfilling personal lives and meet their commitments. Strategically flexibility is a vital part to any thriving organization. The following are ways you can to increase flexibility in 2017:

Offer a flexible work schedule. Flexibility has many faces. It looks different based on job suitability and work performance. Flexibility does not simply mean teleworking. Flexibility can range from telecommuting to compressed workweeks, flexible hours or a combination style of flexibility.


Model the work balance you would like to see in employees. When a manager uses PTO to take a vacation yet responds to email as if she is in the office, this sends a powerful message to employees about whether they need to email while on vacation. The actions of senior leaders are heard and observed by employees. As a manager, your flexibility may look different from staff’s flexibility. Manager to staff hours can look different. It is important to show that flexibility is still a part of your work environment.

Transparency and Communication are the keys to success. When employees are electronically connected to the work environment 24/7 work life balance can be a challenge. Set up expectations in your workplace concerning response times for work hours, after hours and vacation. Make sure as a manager you set up clear expectations and both sides are accountable.

Allow some cross-over of life needs in the workplace and vice versa. At times professional employees must deal with life at work. Trust adult employees to make good choices. Hold individuals accountable, address issues with problems individually.

Pilot and test work arrangements. Launch a pilot before committing and get feedback from key players. Make revisions and adjustments before implementation.

To learn more about workplace flexibility or to schedule a consultation, contact the Emory WorkLife Resource Center at (404) 727-8000.


Heathfield, S. (2016). Ways to Encourage Employee Work Balance. Retrieved from https://www.thebalance.com/top-ways-to-encourage-employee-work-balance-1919353

Terp, J. (2017). The Future of Work 2017: How the Workplace is Changing. Retrieved from https://www.add-on.com/blog/entry/the-future-of-work-2017.html