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Flexing Flexibility: Designing Work Experiences that Fit Business and People Needs

Use Daggerwing’s 6 “Employees with Flexible Needs” Personas as a Shortcut to Designing Your Company’s Flexible Employee Experiences

Navigating business survival through the pandemic has taught corporate leaders some key facts about the connection between their business strategy and people strategy:

FACT: A better employee experience leads to better business outcomes.

FACT: Employees want to retain the flexibility they’ve come to enjoy during the pandemic, and half say they are willing to leave a job that doesn’t give them the flexibility they desire.

FACT: Despite the original fears of many leaders, the pandemic has proven that employees with flexible working situations demonstrate greater productivity, collaboration, and communication. 

So, clearly flexibility is the new must-have for many companies who want to retain their employees, attract new ones, and grow their business. 

But where do you start with designing the ideal flexible employee experience?

At Daggerwing Group, we’re working with many companies who are reinventing their future workplace  from custom hybrid models to a full shift to virtual. And when it comes time to articulate and assess the flex needs of employees, we have a proven, helpful approach that works. 

When you want to design the ideal experience for your customers, you create customer personas to bring their needs to life. So, to design the ideal flexible experiences for employees  that also align with your business needs  why not create employee personas to bring their needs to life?

How do you start to build your employee personas? Here are the 6 “Flexible Employee Personas” that we believe are most common at companies today. Take a look to see which ones are most relevant to the top talent you want to attract and retain:

Flexibility to me means having the ability to balance my personal and professional life. Over the last year, I’ve worked from both Florida and New York to be near my elderly parents. It was important to be near them during the pandemic so I could help them avoid exposure by running errands to the grocery store and pharmacy. I felt an immense feeling of relief knowing I was able to support them during such a difficult time. The flexibility to continue working from Florida as needed gives me peace of mind so that I can get my work done from anywhere while being a supportive daughter.

 

 

Prior to the pandemic, I was looking for a change in my life. So once Covid happened and it became clear how easy it was to work from anywhere, I decided to make the move from the coast to Colorado, and it’s been incredible. I now have easy access to skiing and hiking and about 300+ days of sunshine a year! All of this has had a significant impact on my mood and mental health. Flexibility is about finding a way to incorporate work and life activities together. For me personally, I’ll continue to work remotely, while still building connections with my colleagues and getting my work done.

I started my new job in the middle of the pandemic. And while the support system I had while onboarding helped me settle into my new role quickly and efficiently, I found it difficult to really feel ingrained in the culture. Virtual happy hours and team building activities have been great, but it doesn’t replace forming connections and building relationships in person. So, while I will continue to work from home a few days a week, I’m looking forward to the flexibility of going back to an office to work with my team face-to-face and for different culture events so I can get to know everyone on a more personal level. 

 

My husband and I had thought about getting a puppy, but the training requirements were not something we could manage while both working full-time jobs and long hours in an office. During the pandemic, we decided this was the perfect opportunity to get a puppy as we were both working from home indefinitely, and it turned out to be a great way to improve our mental health and make sure we were getting a more healthy balance in our lives. Working from home allowed me to take her for a quick walk at lunch, or spend a few extra minutes at the dog park in the morning since I didn’t have to travel to the office. This flexibility has allowed me to remain focused and productive, while letting me experience all the joy of bringing a pet into our lives.

My husband and I spent a good amount of the last 16 months working from home with our toddler. During that time, we got to experience many firsts with our now two-year-old that we otherwise might have missed – we got to see him walk, say his first words, and dance like no one’s watching! But it was often difficult to balance being a mom with being present and “on” as a leader and client advisor. As I think about the future, my ideal scenario is one that empowers choice for the employee. Either the flexibility to go into an office/co-working space when needed to focus or collaborate with my team, or the flexibility to work from home so I can be available for my son and family. 

 

Over the course of my 10+ year career, I’ve gone into the office pretty much every single day. So, when the pandemic hit, and I needed to adapt to a new work environment, it was a shock to the system. I’m someone who likes boundaries. I like to separate my working space from my living/personal space  and it’s not easy to do when working from an apartment without a dedicated office! For me, flexibility means I can go into an office 4-5 days per week. It allows me to come home after a long day or week and check out, which helps with my well-being and mental health.

Are there other personas that are missing here, but reflect your employees? Make sure you capture the breadth of employee needs, on their teams and in their words, as you start to design the flexible model that’s best for your business and your people. 

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Sophie is an Associate Principal at Daggerwing Group. She has experience in employee engagement, organizational change and effectiveness, training and leadership development, talent management, rewards, and internal communications. Since joining Daggerwing in 2012, Sophie has worked with several clients on transformative change, communication plans, organizational assessments, transformation, and employee value propositions. Sophie also has experience leading internal communications work during M&As, activating change communications strategies for business transformations, and supporting the rollout of culture change initiatives. Traveling is Sophie’s passion, and she’s looking forward to discovering country #41 once international travel is a thing again.
Sophia Segrera is a Managing Consultant at Daggerwing Group. She is passionate about activating company culture to drive business results. To do this, she focuses on engaging and equipping employees with the right tools to be agile in the face of change. Outside of work, you can find Sophia listening to her favorite murder mystery or real housewives podcast, trying new restaurants, or at a workout class in her area.
Elizabeth is a Managing Consultant at Daggerwing Group based in New York City. She is passionate about unleashing the potential of organizations and their greatest asset, their people, through innovative and disruptive methods that create meaningful and memorable change. She has helped many organizations bridge the gap between where they are today and where they want to be. You can find Elizabeth on the weekends training for her next marathon followed by some good quality time binge watching whatever the latest and greatest reality tv show is.