When you think of flexibility in the workplace, you probably think of things like individualised work schedules, working remotely, office space configuration, and even how people get their jobs done. All of these things help constitute a flexible work environment―which is not only becoming commonplace in today’s workplace, it’s becoming a competitive differentiator―as company’s vie for the best talent.

Meeting employees’ needs

Increasingly, employees across the generational spectrum are seeking a balance between work and personal life. Flexibility at their jobs is an important component of that balance. Millennials―to whom intrinsic rewards are just as, if not more, important than financial rewards―are looking for meaningful work that integrates smoothly with their lifestyle. They’re also seeking opportunities to learn and grow in a variety of work environments and industries. Generation X, which often must juggle the demands of caring for both children and parents, needs flexibility that accommodates both a very busy work and family life and a burgeoning career. Baby Boomers, reluctant to completely abandon their careers at retirement age, are looking for a blend of work and recreation that continues to tap their expertise without cramping their “golden years.”

The Workforce of One concept (explained by Accenture’s Susan Cantrell and David Smith in their book, Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management through Customization), which I showcased in a previous blog series, accommodates these multi-generational desires and takes flexibility in the workplace to a new level. The authors suggest segmenting work populations based on meaningful business-specific criteria and then offering a modular suite of choices that allows employees to design their own work experience. This approach shows great promise in terms of attracting and retaining talent.

A new business model

However, flexibility in the work environment means more than just offering options that help employees meet personal as well as career goals and more successfully integrate work and home life. The term also applies to a growing movement to change how companies acquire and deploy talent. The extended workforce is a concept that encompasses a variety of methods and resources for getting work done―including project-based teams, independently contracted workers, and even robotics. In my next three posts, I’ll elaborate on what the extended workforce is, how it’s transforming the business world, and how you can make it work for your firm.

To learn more about the extended workforce, please see:

The Rise of the Extended Workforce

Technology Vision 2016_People First: The Primacy of People in a Digital Age: Trend 2: Liquid Workforce

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