In more and more industries, commuting into the office every work-day is no longer a prerequisite to successful performance, as anyone with a reliable Wifi connection and work-ethic can work remotely from their preferred location. One may conjure up the image of a developer slouched on a bean-bag chair when they hear the phrase “work from home,” but even traditional players in industries as rigid and corporate as law, are drawn to the practical and productive benefits of flexibility in their work environments.
Employers that embrace this flexibility and adapt to the needs and desires of their employees are the companies that will best maintain and retain their talent. Corporate commercial lawyer Selena McLeod chose to work at CEO Law, an alternative legal services company, rather than a BigLaw law firm specifically because of its “flexible schedule and the ability to work remotely and independently.”
Given the power of choice in her work schedule, she felt it was important to be “able to choose the time during the day which works best for [her] and when [she is] most productive.” The concept of optimal hour distribution, that everyone has different “optimal” times of focus as different people are morning, afternoon, or night people comes into play here. Allowing employees more flexibility to work during the hours that they find to be most natural, instead of enforcing a standardized 9 – 5 timetable on them, maximizes their productivity and enjoyment in their work (to read more about the science behind this, see the Stanford study that found that employees who work from home are 13% more productive compared with their in-office counterparts).
Being “more focused and able to work more productively without interruptions from other people in the office,” Selena speaks to the benefit of optimized communication in flexible work environments. In communal work spaces that bring all employees together, it is often difficult to create boundaries between personal and professional communication, and to seclude oneself from the larger group to work independently. While popping into each other’s offices at one’s own whim can be socially stimulating, it can be disruptive and distracting for others. However, when employees work remotely more often, communication is restricted to only the necessary. Although face-to-face communication is often needed in certain circumstances, allowing employees to communicate with one another remotely most of the time can increase efficiency.
Selena’s now flexible and unique way of work stands out from her previous places of employment “because the environment and the focus model are different.” She prefers being allowed to “choose the environment [she] works in to best suit [her] needs,” noting the increased comfort in essentially being allowed to take her “work anywhere and choose the best space and time to do it.” Personal preference in environments are another key factor in productivity, as one is more comfortable in environments that they choose for themselves based on individual preferences and work habits, whether it be your quiet home office or favourite coffee shop buzzing with background noise.
Companies that provide employees with optimal work hours, communications, and environments, not only increase the overall productivity of their workforce, but deliver better satisfaction to their team. For Selena McLeod, CEO Law’s alternative model founded on the principle of work-life-balance, leads “to the best results rather than just billable hours,” as lawyer happiness results in a better work product, which in turn results in happy returning clients.