What are the disadvantages of workplace flexibility?

In this post, we shall be examining the disadvantages of workplace flexibility. We shall also be looking closely at what in fact is workplace flexibility and why many employees and organizations opt for it. The post-COVID world has increased the demand for workplace flexibility in organizations, leading business pundits to debate extensively on this topic.

What are the disadvantages of workplace flexibility?

The most common prevalent disadvantages of workplace flexibility are:

  • Lack of an ‘office routine’ at home
  • Disruption of work-life balance
  • Data connectivity issues
  • Troubles with coordination
  • Low levels of motivation
  • Feelings of disconnectedness
  • Cutting down of perks and incentives

Workplace flexibility has been in place long before the pandemic. It however, has gained immense popularity post-COVID as part of social-distancing to lessen the spread of the virus. While many workers, especially women, opt for workplace flexibility, this feature still has many disadvantages. The common disadvantages of workplace flexibility are explained below:

Lack of an ‘office routine’ at home

While coming to an office to work automatically creates a stable work routine or schedule, this might not be feasible while working from home. There might be many distractions in the form of child care, running errands, visitors or even family. Many employees do not have a specially-assigned office space which might disrupt their efficiency in daily tasks.

Disruption of work-life balance

The best thing about going to an office is that employees get to leave their work to go home and relax. However, with workplace flexibility this might not be possible. Research shows that many remote workers face the problem of not being able to switch off or pull the plug on their work. In these cases, work-life balance might go for a toss, creating stress and frustration for the workers.

Data connectivity issues

Almost all types of flexible working require a strong and stable data connection. This is because the online collaboration tools that organizations use are usually integrated with cloud technology. While this might not seem like a major problem for many employees, those who are living in remote areas can find it a difficult resource to acquire.

Troubles with coordination

With flexible working, there is always the chance of having your messages left on read or waiting for hours before someone responds to your message or post. It can also be difficult to coordinate tasks between team members, unlike working in a physical office space. Coordination and communication problems like these can cause a lot of time to be wasted during the day.

Low levels of motivation

There is a high chance of procrastinating work when you are working from home. This means the work gets delayed to the last minute, creating mountains of workloads required to be completed at the last minute. Motivation can also decrease when there are no other colleagues physically around as there is a lack of social motivation and healthy competition.

Feelings of disconnectedness

Many remote workers complain that they feel disconnected from the rest of the group or the organization. This feeling of disconnectedness or isolation is worse when some employees are working in the physical workspace and some are in other time zones, working remotely. Feeling isolated can also lead to low levels of motivation and can also disrupt team cohesion.

 

Cutting down of perks and incentives

Being present in a physical workspace can have many perks such as having access to recreation and refreshment facilities in the company premises. Employees also have easy access to training workshops and seminars which may be important for their professional growth and development. However, flexible working might not allow employees to enjoy these perks.

In addition to these disadvantages, workplace flexibility or flexible working can bring other negative effects like:

Growing in the organization can be difficult

Since workplace flexibility means you might not be physically present when others are, there are high chances that you might be overlooked for the next big project or even a promotion. There are also lesser chances for negotiation of a pay raise or bonus. This can make growth in the organization very difficult.

Frustration in employees

Employees have to handle things on their own when they are working flexibly. As they cannot be dependent on the physical presence of their colleagues to support and guide them, they may feel highly vulnerable and isolated. This in turn, can lead to a drop in individual productivity and work efficiency.

Managers might it difficult to coordinate

Managers who are guiding teams in their work processes might find it difficult to track and coordinate between different employees. This is especially if each team member is working on a different schedule or from a different place. This becomes even more complicated if the organization is not using the right project management system.

Some employees may be unreliable

While some employees are reliable and trustworthy in their work, even if they are working flexibly, this might not be true for all the workers. There might be those who are lazy or irresponsible with their work, thus causing the whole group to miss deadlines or milestones. Thus, organizations need to create measures to continually track progress.

Security risks for the organization

Many employees opt for workplace flexibility so that they can work from home. While at the organization premises, they may use the company devices which are encrypted for security issues; many employees may use their personal devices when they are working from home. This however, can be very risky for the organization and can lead to data leaks.

Clients can be difficult to communicate with

Workplace flexibility is to ensure that the employees are comfortable enough to access their work at different times in the day or from various places. However, this does not apply for clients who might work on an entirely difficult time-schedule. In this scenario, there might be coordination issues with the client, turning into client dissatisfaction over time.

Not suitable for all roles

The feature of workplace flexibility or flexible working hours might not be suitable for all roles in an organization. An example of this is the role of the receptionist in the organization. This role clearly cannot be performed in a flexible hour setting and also cannot be executed on a remote basis from home.

High costs for the company

While some organizations may encourage the employees to use their own personal devices and equipment for flexible working, many organizations require customized devices for the employees to work on. This can lead to high costs for the company in the form of laptops, home office requirements and also high-speed internet connections.

Work progress can be difficult to track

Tracking the work progress of all the team members can be difficult when there is workplace flexibility. It is not only the tasks related to the project, but also the other activities of the employee. This can lead to a decrease in trust levels in the organization, miscommunications and conflicts between team members.

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What is workplace flexibility?

Workplace flexibility is when employees can create their own schedules for working.  It can refer to employees opting for different working hours other than the usual 9-5. It can also be employees working from home or places other than the organization’s physical environment. Through flexible working, employees can align their personal needs and work much better.

Workplace flexibility, especially remote working, has gained a lot of importance in the post-pandemic world as organizations had to find ways to continue their work processes while following COVID-19 safety guidelines. For the purpose of increasing flexibility, organizations are incorporating the use of digital collaboration and project management tools.

Why do employees opt for workplace flexibility?

Employees ask for workplace flexibility options in their organizations as it brings the following advantages:

  • Through workplace flexibility, employees are able to take care of their personal needs and requirements such as doctor appointments and grocery runs. This can also help them take care of their children while working, and thus reduces the cost of baby-sitters or daycare centers
  • Workplace flexibility can greatly increase the productivity of the employees, thus improving their work efficiency and quality. This is because employees can access their work at more convenient times of the day when they are more active and motivated.
  • Organizations can also find that workplace flexibility through remote working saves them a lot of money. Companies do not need to pay for an office space anymore and can also cut down costs for company devices, provided the employees have their own tools to work with.
  • Organizations can also become more attractive for top talent and younger generations of workers as they look for workplace flexibility options while hunting for new jobs. In this manner, the company can develop and expand, while keeping its budget stable.

Conclusion

In this post, we have examined the disadvantages of workplace flexibility. We have also looked closely at what in fact is workplace flexibility and why many employees and organizations opt for it.

Frequently asked questions: (What are the disadvantages of workplace flexibility?)

 

How will flexible working affect my colleagues?

Flexible working can have both positive and negative effects on the working behaviors of employees. However, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives and thus flexible working is becoming a commonly asked for perk in job interviews and hiring processes. Flexible working brings advantages to both the employees as well as the employers.

Through flexible working, employees can work from anywhere they want and thus it enables them to take care of their personal requirements. It has also been known to increase productivity and work efficiency in employees. Furthermore, it can encourage the employees to take lesser sick days and thus leads to on-time completions of work.

However, there might be disadvantages that make us perceive flexible working with a grain of salt. It might lead to security risks for the organization and can also make employees feel disconnected or isolated from others in their team.

Does flexible working improve productivity?

According to studies, flexible working has a positive effect on work productivity. Since employees have access to their work at any time of the day, they can access it at a time which is convenient to them. And thus, this reduces stress and frustration that can come with a 9-5 schedule.

What has been the impact of increased flexibility on business profits?

Companies have reported that flexibility positively increases business profits with 61 percent of these organizations confirming the same. Studies have also shown that flexibility improves the productivity of work, the collaboration between employees as well as a better brand or company reputation.

If you like this post, please leave your questions and comments in the space below.

Citations

https://minutedock.com/academy/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-flexible-working-hours
https://smallbusiness.chron.com/disadvantages-flexible-workforce-70170.html
https://www.thebalancecareers.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-of-flexible-work-schedules-1917964
https://execed.economist.com/blog/industry-trends/pros-and-cons-flexible-work-policies
https://www.spica.com/blog/flexitime-advantages-disadvantages
https://www.deputy.com/blog/the-advantages-and-disadvantages-of-flexible-jobs

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