When Ben Peterson and Ryan Sanders started BambooHR in 2008, they had one goal in mind: create a great place to work.
As they began to define what it means to actually create a great place to work, much of the conversation centered around helping employees find fulfillment in their work without compromising the rest of their lives. In other words, they wanted to kick butt in the office while still enjoying the flexibility required to satisfy family and other personal needs.
But what has surprised Ben and Ryan time and time again is just how great work can be when an organization focuses on the little things that create a desirable workplace. Not only did they find they’d created an award-winning culture by maintaining flexibility and valuing the things that happen outside of the office, they also found a formula to ensure the work produced inside the office is second to none.
A Brief Chat About “Work-life Balance”
Before we discuss the different ways that workplace flexibility has improved BambooHR’s productivity, let’s discuss “work-life balance.” For starters, we don’t believe in it. Just as you would never call a nice bike ride an attempt at exercise-life balance, we usually avoid applying the same misnomer to work. There’s really no reason to suppose that life turns off when you go to work. Life is life, whether you’re sleeping, working, or exercising!
Accordingly, Ben and Ryan have always made sure to provide flexibility to employees so that they can balance every aspect of life. If a child has a school recital, or a doctor appointment is required, or if a snowstorm has somebody nervous about commuting to work, employees know they can work something out with their managers to take care of those things while also ensuring their work gets done. This applies to both temporary and long-term solutions (a large percentage of our workforce telecommutes).
We’ve been able to accomplish this balancing act by consistently discussing—and practicing—two of BambooHR’s core values: “enjoy quality of life” and “make it count.” When it’s time to work, we get stuff done! But when it’s time to leave work, we do so without reservation or guilt.
Share Etherington, a former BambooHR customer turned employee, probably put it best. “I already loved BambooHR the product, so when I found out I could help other people feel the love and work from home, it was a dream! Sharing the Bamboo love is important to me, but so is my family. I love that I can balance both.”
The 4 Major Ways Work Flexibility Improved Our Productivity
When our writing team was considering how to explain just how valuable work flexibility is at BambooHR, we decided our best approach was to simply ask BambooHR employees. We put together a short survey and sent it out to the team. The effusive responses we got were eye-opening and powerful. Of the 100 employees surveyed, 88 said that flexibility has had a positive effect on their team, 12 said they don’t know, and nobody said it has had a negative effect. (To be clear, no arms were twisted or harmed in the making of this survey.)
It’s important to acknowledge flexibility has potential pitfalls. It doesn’t take much thought to realize that too much flexibility or flexibility without adequate communication can lead to mistakes (and a lot of finger-pointing). However, we’ve found that by recruiting people who thrive on autonomy, encouraging a culture of openness and trust, and remaining steadfast to these ideals, BambooHR has been able to overcome these pitfalls almost universally.
Perhaps the most useful insight we gleaned from the survey results was just how positively flexibility contributes to our company. Not only are employees thankful and appreciative for the flexibility given them, and not only do they feel it has a positive effect on their work, but they actually attribute a large portion of their success to it!
After compiling their responses, we found a couple dozen ways in which employees feel work flexibility leads to improved productivity. We’ve combined and condensed that list down to a tidy four for your convenience, and to drive the point home, we’ve included some of our favorite responses. Enjoy.
Recruiting & Retention
First and foremost, workplace flexibility gets talented people in the seat. 72 percent of the employees we surveyed weighed it into their decision to join Bamboo. What’s more important, perhaps, is that flexibility helps keep top talent. And, to be clear, talented people almost always produce better work than their untalented counterparts.
“I didn’t expect to start having kids when I started working at BambooHR. In the last year, I did have my first child. Because of BambooHR’s flexibility, I’m able to keep my job and raise my child.” —Audrey Jones, Graphic Designer
“Four of our developers live far away, and if it weren’t for the flexibility provided by BambooHR, we would not be benefiting from their talent and work.” —Joy Condie, Sr. Web Developer
“Telecommuting is something I’ve always wanted to do so I probably would’ve looked for a new job that allowed me to do that. I like to think that me staying at the company had a positive effect on my team.” —Greg Roberts, Front-end Developer
By providing flexibility and autonomy, BambooHR has shown its people that they trust them. With this trust comes personalized work schedules that, when coordinated with their team, allow employees to work in a way they deem to be the most productive. This trust also brings with it a motivation for employees to prove they are worthy of being trusted.
“It helps me to feel more empowered…my employer trusts me, not only to work the hours I say I’m working, but [also to] do my job in the best way I can. Treating people like responsible, trustworthy employees helps them to be responsible, trustworthy employees.” —Sarah Bradshaw, Recruiting Coordinator
“It allows me to schedule my work around times when my mind and brain are the most focused. I love that I’m free to do that.” —Tyler Terry, Implementation Manager
“Being an introvert, working in an office setting can be distracting and emotionally draining. Having the chance to work from home has a been a huge blessing. It’s a great feeling to know that management trusts you and doesn’t feel like they need to be peeking over your shoulder. That trust gives me even more motivation to work hard.” —Summer Gates, Support Hero
“More than anything, the flexibility provides me with a feeling that I am trusted by my management and I do not want to break that trust because of how much they expect of me.” —Chris Morgan, HR Project Manager
As time passes and needs for flexibility are satisfied, employees develop a strong loyalty for a management that facilitates flexibility. In short, workplace flexibility creates an environment of caring, and caring leads to production.
“My team is allowed to attend to matters that are important to them (family, school, health, etc.) and not have to worry about an inflexible work schedule. They are happy and grateful for the understanding and in turn feel more motivated, I think, to give back and work hard for the company.” —Tyler Terry, Implementation Manager
“Because Bamboo treats us so well, everyone works hard so they don’t mess up this good thing we’ve got going.” —Chris Jex, Sales Development Representative
“Team members are willing to work harder and go the extra mile because the company has been flexible in helping the employee balance their needs.”—Cassie Whitlock, Director of HR
“It has been great to have support from team members and to be able to support them when they needed flexibility. It has definitely brought us closer together!” —Reyna Mustard, Customer Success Manager
“Everyone here knows that when they take a day off or go on vacation, the rest of the team is here to help them, especially with email bouncebacks. That is a huge thing in Support because it allows clients to receive the help they need in a timely manner and also allows the employee to enjoy their time off without worrying about coming back to a mound of neglected customers.” —Nessie Larsen, Support Hero
Flexibility brings happiness to employees because it replaces the stress and guilt cycle caused by strict scheduling policies with peace of mind. A less stressful, more peaceful environment leads to great work, and opens the door to finding real fulfillment.
“We’re able to focus our time on doing great work, which means less time worrying about workplace drama.” —Jordan Wade, Media Buyer
“Flexibility makes for a happy team! Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.” —Debbie Lemen, Implementation Manager
“Flexibility brings peace of mind which yields creativity. Allowing autonomy in our jobs also frees us all up to find our best ideas and collaborate better. . . It also removes a lot of stress that can come when you’re trying to manage so many other important aspects of life around work—even if it’s just menial tasks. And I think everyone works better and becomes more valuable to their company whenever they’re able to work without stress.” —Jamison Furr, Sr. Media Buyer
“Being able to telecommute and work near my family cuts down on my anxiety about being away from my children and makes me more focused on my job at hand. Not having to commute or being away from home for lunch gives me three hours more time that is available to spend with my family or taking care of myself which also means I’m less stressed and giving the company my best self.” —Katy Nielsen, HR Project Manager
“I used to worry a lot more with other companies if I had a doctor’s appointment and if I had to take a lot of time off but with my manager at BambooHR, I know if I approach them I won’t feel guilty for also needing to live life.” —Tiffany Gale, HR Project Manager
In these four ways and many others, work flexibility has proven to be crucial to BambooHR’s success story. Our flexibility fosters an environment of trust and loyalty, where employees are happy and feel motivated to produce great work, both in the immediate and long-term future.
photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com