After the upheaval in working methods linked to the pandemic, flexibility is now the word of the day. Going forward, companies must adapt to people’s needs in a context of severe labour shortage.
Lockdowns and other health restrictions were an eye-opener for many workers. Freedom, autonomy, reduced working hours and family time now top the list of priorities. This applies as much to the people that companies employ as to the companies themselves, who are facing labour shortages and must redouble their efforts to recruit and retain staff.
Flexible measures include complete trust in their staff members, according to the Flow platform team, which lists Quebec companies offering flexible working conditions. There is no standard model, but a multitude of possibilities adjusted according to needs and tasks. This may include flextime, remote work or hybrid work, unlimited vacation, a four-day week, timesharing or partial unemployment.
These arrangements give employees more time for their personal activities, thus enabling them to better reconcile work and personal life. According to Health Canada, such flexibility promotes better mental and physical health, increased job satisfaction, increased energy and creativity, and a greater ability to cope with stress.
Furthermore, a recent study by the International Labour Organization (ILO) shows that flexible working hours can be beneficial for the economy and businesses. These conclusions were made by analyzing the measures taken by more than 160 countries during the pandemic. Conversely, restricting flexibility could result in significant costs, such as increased staff turnover.
“This report shows that […] we can create a ‘win-win’ scenario by improving both business performance and work-life balance,” says Jon Messenger, lead author of the study. For example, shorter working days are generally associated with better productivity. In many countries, public policies are needed to promote shorter working hours, says the ILO.
Remote work, in particular, would help support staff autonomy. However, it is necessary to regulate this practice in order to limit the potential negative effects such as isolation or overload, according to the ILO, in particular through the right to disconnect.