Winter has dragged on and on this year, and it’s become quite clear that this season is not an office worker’s friend. Between bitter cold temperatures and sick office mates, it’s easy for employees to find themselves feeling ill—or dreaming of finding a new job that will let them work from home.

In many ways, winter is a reality check for both workers and employees alike. For workers, they might begin to weigh whether their office job (with its lengthy commute, chatty colleagues, and incessant interruptions) is really worth it. And for employers, a lengthy winter season might just be the catalyst for starting a workplace flexibility program.

Here are just five ways in which winter is a good reminder that flex benefits employers.

Bad weather.

Unless you’re living in a state where it’s 70 degrees and sunny year-round, winters can be brutal—and the intensity (and frequency) of the storms seems to be getting worse. Many states are still under many feet of snow, making the end seem nowhere in sight. When the weather is bad, even the most earnest employees can have a hard time commuting into the office. If a flex program is not in place, workers won’t be able to get into the office to get their work done, which can be a huge loss to the company in terms of productivity.

Flu season.

It started out with a few sniffles. Now, the entire office is sneezing, coughing, and congested—and those were the ones who were well enough to get into the office! The winter months are notorious for being cold and flu season, which means that unless your staff practices good hand hygiene, your entire department could be taken down with one misdirected sneeze. If sickly workers were allowed to work remotely, they would be able to tackle some of their workload without infecting the entire office.

Holidays.

Sure, you’ve gotten past Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, but the winter months following the big holidays still have lots of smaller holidays sprinkled throughout them. Your employees might have to take days off to cover kid care during those days, which means that they’ll need personal days. While there are fewer federal holidays post New Year’s, it’s an ideal time to think about giving office employees the option to work from home.

Kids’ activities.

Flexible schedules and working parents seem to go hand-in-hand, and never is that more true than the case of working parents whose kids are in sports. Working moms and dads often have to leave work early to take their kids to practices and competitions. (Hockey, anyone?) Being able to work flexibly—such as after a match or practice—can ensure that working parents can cheer on their kids to victory—and get their work done, too.

“Sick” employees.

Let’s face it: when the temps outside are in the negative digits, nobody wants to leave the warmth of their home, much less trek into an office. There’s a much greater likelihood of employees calling in sick during cold weather months… even when they’re not. Given the option, though, they would probably work from their home office rather than take the day off. After all, calling in sick causes them to become backed up in their work and can create extra stress as they try to catch up. Work flexibility gives employees the opportunity to continue working—even in their PJ’s.

Winter is the ideal time for employers to consider implementing a program that offers flexible schedules to its employees. With the numerous benefits that come with having a flexible staff, employers can recruit top talent and maintain the productive workforce they have, no matter what the weather is.

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