Are flexible work policies right for your organization? One way to find out is through a strategic planning process.
The debate about what works when it comes to “flex work” has been heating up. Major companies like Disney and Amazon have issued new policies requiring employees to return to in-office work. Yet even as some companies are pulling back on flexibility, research shows that employees increasingly value flexible work.
As leaders, we all want to balance what our organizations need to succeed—and what our team members need to succeed in their roles. But sometimes the answer isn’t always clear.
At Funding for Good, we’ve worked with businesses and nonprofits across the spectrum when it comes to flexible work policies. One consistency, though, is how organizations are trying to find an approach that also aligns with their vision, mission, and values.
How Flexible Work Policies Show Up in Strategic Planning
1) The Visioning Process
When we work with strategic planning clients, one of the first steps in our pre-planning process is to ensure an organization’s vision and mission statements are current and relevant. This is because vision and mission should drive an organization’s strategic plan.
While flexible work policies wouldn’t naturally come up at this early stage, what does emerge are an organization’s values. And those same values can ultimately help leaders shape their approach to flexible work. Indeed, research increasingly shows that flex work can help support workplace diversity and equity—a value many organizations share.
2) Assessing Organizational Strengths and Weaknesses
The second place flexible work policies may arise in strategic planning is when we’re helping organizations map their strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and opportunities through a SWOT analysis.
Again, flex work might not come up directly. Instead, leaders may talk about challenges with staff morale or teams feeling disconnected. But this can ultimately point to a need to reassess internal policies and how they’re implemented. For example, this could suggest a need for more flexible work. It could also mean being more strategic in using the time when staff members are together.
Understanding Flex Work Options
Over the last several years, flexible work has been evolving rapidly. While some major corporations have announced policies publicly, most leaders scrambled to find out what others in their sector and region were doing. It left a major information gap, both for employers and employees. To complicate things, organizational policies often vary from organizational practice.
So we were intrigued to learn about the “Flex Index.” It’s a new tool to help job seekers understand organizations’ flexible work policies before applying for a job. According to Forbes, the Flex Index is:
trying to make employers’ flexible work policies searchable and help job seekers—as well as human resources executives, academics and anyone else looking to compare practices or track hybrid work trends—research employers’ arrangements in one place.
With access to data on the incredibly diverse range of flex work options out there, organizations can more easily explore which options might work best for them.
Mapping the Right Direction for Your Organization
When it comes to flexible work, there truly is no one-size-fits-all solution. For some organizations, such as those that provide direct services, in-person work may be essential. For others, the benefits of going fully remote (and saving on office rent) may be too good to pass up. Similarly, every staff member thrives under different conditions. Finding the right balance for your organization may not be easy, but it’s worth working toward.