Does flexibility lead to increased productivity?

In today's society, there is no such thing as a set schedule. Depending on the industry you're in, you could be working the standard 9-to-5 day or completing your responsibilities long after the sun has set. However, is one work schedule better than another? Recent studies have shown that the answer to that is yes, but which one that is differs from person to person.

The downfall of 9-to-5 workdays
Baby boomers may have been OK with waking up to head into work for 9 a.m. and leaving to go home at 5 p.m. However, the younger generations aren't like that. According to a study by Bentley University, 77 percent of millennials believe flexibility at work would make them more productive. They have grown up with the technology that allows them to be adaptable to any situation, and Generation Y wants the next circumstance to be work.

Millennials also desire a more defined work-life balance. Instead of solely focusing on succeeding in their careers, they want the freedom to spend as much time with their families as possible, The Muse explained. Gen Y wants to be able to do it all as opposed to making one more important over the other.

The standard workday may also not be the most productive hours for everyone. According to an infographic from Podio, long hours lead to exhaustion, poor engagement, low productivity and stress, Entrepreneur reported. Not everyone works best for eight straight hours, starting early in the morning. In a study published in Personality and Individual Differences, Russian researchers found that people were energetic at different times, while others were either lively all the time or tired all day, Inc. explained. Because of the variation in energy levels, productivity may not be high across the board in a standard workday, which can leave many employees feeling like they're struggling.

The standard workday can leave some employees watching the clock for closing time.The standard workday can leave some employees watching the clock for closing time.

The benefits of flexibility
Allowing your employees to work from home may benefit your business banking account in the long run. According to a study by Dell and Intel, approximately 50 percent of employees felt they got more work done while working at home, while another 36 percent thought they were equally as productive, Business News Daily reported. Only 14 percent believed that didn't get much accomplished from their houses.

"If you're in the knowledge work business, you work in the tech field or in the creative and arts field, I think it's safe to say that there's been a great more blurring of work," Genevieve Bell, U.S. director of user experience at Intel, told Business News Daily. "It no longer just happens in the office – it follows you home; it follows you to other places."

The flexibility of work hours and place also assist your employees' health and satisfaction. Workers tend to sleep more and feel less stress when they're in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to being in the office. However, they may also have a harder time ignoring distractions, but there are plenty of ways you can keep your employees on track from any location.

  • Ensure they take breaks – Working for eight hours straight can leave a person drained and feeling less than happy. By making sure your employees step away from their computers every few hours, you'll ensure they're not only engaged, but productive as well. Entrepreneur suggested taking two 15-minute breaks each day, using a timer or splitting your day into 90-minute slots.
  • Create flexible projects – If employees are assigned specific jobs in certain projects, they may feel constrained and stressed. However, by letting your workers freely flow from one task to the next without upper management approval, you'll find that they're much happier and engaged in their responsibilities, CBS News explained. If you're more comfortable assigning people to certain teams, you can let them choose their roles in the group.
  • Set goals – It can be easy to assume that your staff knows what it should be doing on a day-to-day basis. However, they may not understand what should be completed or how many tasks they should cross of the list. Instead, try setting goals for them to meet each day, CBS News suggested. Let them know what they should be doing each day so that you don't have to worry about a project not getting done on time.

It has been ingrained in American employees' brains that a 9-to-5 schedule is the best time to work. However, that may not be the case for everyone. By allowing your workers to decide the times they're most productive, you may see an increase in revenue.

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