Practical & Flexible Work Arrangements for Your Small Business in Kenya.

Flexibility is almost everyone’s dream. As an entrepreneur, you probably got into entrepreneurship seeking flexibility.

Studies show that employees in a flexible environment tend to be more productive than those in ‘tight and strict’ work environments.

The workforce landscape is under constant change as our culture evolves. Alyssa Gregory writes on the Balance Small Business that businesses cannot just offer a competitive salary and other benefits to potential employees. They have to be able to offer flexible work environments.

So as employees look for jobs nowadays, they are not only looking for salaries, or benefits, they are looking for flexibility too.

As a small business, you might not have a big staff team and flexible work arrangements might not be a thing for you. However, from the Balance, flexible work arrangements help workers stay engaged and motivated. This will be a bonus boost for your business.

Many small business owners are adamant about flexible work arrangements and prefer the traditional work arrangement and you are probably one of them. You probably feel that you cannot measure your workers’ productivity away from their desks. You are only confident in them only if you are seeing them actually doing the work.

With the benefits of flexibility, you need a change of mindset and adapt to the changing workforce landscape.

With flexible work arrangements, you and your team benefit.

  • There is improved job satisfaction, morale, and productivity.
  • You enhance employee retention.
  • You and your employees are less stressed and burnt out.
  • There is an improved work-life balance for you and your employees.

Most popular flexible work arrangements.

Different businesses with different business operations employ different flexible work arrangements. On the other hand, flexible work arrangements might not even work for some businesses.

Say your business requires workers to be customer-facing or using manufacturing materials, these arrangements might not be the best option.

You need to understand your business and its industry in order to choose the right arrangements for your business.

1.Flexible Locations.

Offering flexible locations is one of the main ways you can incorporate flexible work arrangements. Flexible locations mean your workers can work from any place remotely or telecommute. They can get work done anywhere just not necessarily from your office.

Telecommuting is an arrangement that allows your employees to work from the office on some days and away from the office on other days. Employees have the freedom to choose where to work from on which days. However, as the business owner, you can limit these days to a certain number.

Most businesses accommodate flexible locations by having ‘work from home days’. This can be once a week, twice a week, etc.

With remote working, you allow some or all your employees to work outside your office all the time. Your employees only come in for scheduled meetings, and trainings. This type of arrangement is mostly limited to businesses that don’t offer physical products or services to their customers.

From the Balance, the difference between telecommuting and remote working is that telecommuters do most of the bulk work in the office and work offsite on some days. Remote workers on the other hand work offsite all the time. Most organizations prefer telecommuting.

2.Flexible Schedules.

In reality, 9-5 fixed work schedules don’t work for all workers. Flexible schedules allow your workers to choose schedules that work for them instead of having all of them in the office at the same time from Monday to Friday.

As the business owner, you can set different work schedule parameters and your employees choose from them. For example, you might choose an option where working hours are open within 12 hours such as 6 am to 6 pm and your workers choose their own 8 hours from the provided 12 hours.

You want to avoid confusion with this arrangement. Your employees need to choose their specific 8 working hours to avoid confusion and wondering where someone is all the time. For example, employee X works from 6 am to 2 pm and Y works from 9 am to 5 pm. That way, you know who is available and at what time.

Additionally, your employees can change their specific working hours within the schedule parameters after a while. It could be 6 months, etc.

This will work for you effectively if your business has a work target for each day, that is, a specific amount of work to be done by the end of each workday.

3.Compressed Workweek.

Compressing your workweek is another option to consider.  

A compressed workweek allows your employees the option of working a standard workweek of fewer than 5 days a week. The common one being 40 Hours within less than 5 days a week. Your employees could work 10 hours for 4 days every week. That way, they have a 3 day weekend each week. It’s commonly known as the four-day workweek.

There are several compressed workweek approaches you could choose from. There is 9/80 where your employees work 80 hours in 9 days with 1 day off each week.

Another option includes three 12-hour days or 9-10-hour days in two weeks with 1 or 2 days off.

4.Job Sharing/ Part-time.

With job sharing, two employees voluntarily share the responsibilities of one full-time job position.

This option works great for employers who need full-time work but are not able to find staff able to work full-time. So instead of having one employee handling finances, you have two people handling finances.

They not only share the responsibilities but also have the salary and benefits are divided between them. These two individuals work on a part-time basis for fewer hours but are both accountable.

They have to be in sync with all their roles and tasks. There needs to be a high level of compatibility, communication, and cooperation between the two employees and the supervisor or boss.

This is a great option if the people who work in your business are students or parents. With two people filling the same job post effectively, this increases productivity and boosts employee loyalty.  

Remember this, each of these flexible work arrangements has its own good and downsides. You need to evaluate each arrangement before settling and see which one can effectively work for your business type.

Also, consider involving your employees before rolling out any arrangement. These arrangements revolve around them and if they are not involved, you might come up with an arrangement that doesn’t work for them. Above all, when you involve them, they will feel more motivated and energized at work and this is a plus for you. It comes with employee loyalty, employee retention, work-life balance, and above all job satisfaction.

Final Thoughts…

Productivity is very crucial for any organization especially if you want to see your business grow fully to its potential.  

And as a small business owner, with few employees, you need as much productivity as possible. Flexible work environments will help you do that.

Remember, every work arrangement has its own challenges, and it’s up to you to manage the challenges that come with each. But, well managed flexible work arrangements can really benefit your small business.

Every employee wants job satisfaction and wants to be productive. Give yourself and your staff flexibility and boost your productivity.

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