What are the Disadvantages of Workplace Flexibility (11 Big Problems if Not Properly Managed)


Workplace flexibility is an arrangement that allows employees to choose how, when and where they want to work. This simply means that employees have a choice as to the factors involved in how, when and where they perform their jobs. I’ve had the opportunity to work in various circles and a chance to experience several workplace arrangements. Within the time I have spent working in a flexible workplace scenario, I have been able to identify several advantages and disadvantages of the technique and as such, have the knowledge required to educate you on the problems associated with workplace flexibility.

What are the disadvantages of workplace flexibility?  11 Disadvantages of Workplace Flexibility

  1. 1. Unreliable and untrustworthy employees
  2. 2. A problem with managing time
  3. 3. The need for structure for some
  4. 4. An inability to separate being at home and being at work
  5. 5. Handling clients
  6. 6. Unsuitability
  7. 7. Security
  8. 8. Overtime costs
  9. 9. Technology costs
  10. 10. A decrease in human relation and interaction
  11. 11. It can engender dissatisfaction

As already mentioned, there are several disadvantages that can be associated with a flexible workplace. The disadvantages you can expect to observe in a flexible workplace includes such things as difficulty in managing employees as well as employees being purely unreliable and untrustworthy. If ways are not found to curb these disadvantages, the opposite of what you as an employer is trying to achieve will be achieved and there will be virtually no growth in your organization.

Many employers are making the shift from a traditional workplace to a flexible one because of the many advantagesOpens in a new tab. they see around. What most, however, do not understand is that there are also several advantages associated with this style of working which, if measures are not put in place before adopting it will lead to a reverse of the effect you are trying to accomplish by adopting a flexible workplace.

Workplace flexibility has gained traction over the past couple of years because of the fact that it allows employees to lead a better quality of life and achieve a healthy work life balance which will make them more engaged with their works and thus, lead to more and better productivity which means more profit for the employers. These are the major reasons why any employer will adopt workplace flexibility in the first place, the issues thus described, however, and which will be further examining in this article can effectively defeat all the positives attributable to workplace flexibility such that there will be net negatives instead. This is why it is essential that someone looking to make the shift from a traditional workplace to a flexible one should understand the ramifications involved and take active steps to ensure that every avenue by which the so named disadvantages can rear their ugly heads is blocked and effectively disabled. Workplace flexibility has been helped along by the growth of technology and quite frankly, it is the workplace of the future. However, disadvantages exist which should be plugged and blocked off so as to enjoy the full benefits of this arrangement.

There are several workplace flexibility options that an employee and his/her employer can agree upon and these includes the following;

An option to work from home

One of the great things about workplace flexibility is the fact that it employees can choose where they want to work from. This can be their homes, a café, a restaurant, a library, a co-working space and so much more. With the world being what it is today and communication possible of being done in real time, the need for all employees of a given company to be present at one particular location in order to attain and achieve their set objectives has been rendered unnecessary. While it will still be required that workers in certain departments and with certain job descriptions and titles show up so as to get their work done, it is no longer the case with the majority of workers today who can just as easily get their work done from wherever they feel comfortable the most without the organization having to spend extra money on office real estate and so on.

Workplace independence

Another form that workplace flexibility takes is workplace independence which simply refers to the ability of workers to work independently on their own without one superior or the other constantly staring over their shoulders to see what they are doing. This is does not mean that employees are not answerable to their superiors for the job done, no. It simply means that employees are not being micromanaged and that they are trusted to get stuff done by themselves and on their own. Workplace independence addresses how employees choose to do their work because this choice is placed firmly in their hands and they do not have to contend with someone else told them about how best to do their job. Workplace independence has a lot of benefits attributable to it and workplace independence is one of the forms it takes.

Working arrangement

Also, one of the forms of workplace flexibility is the fact that they can choose any working arrangement they so desire and which they feel is required for the successful completion of their tasks. Workplace flexibility takes several forms and these are outlined below for people looking to negotiate an arrangement;

Adjustable furniture: yet another form that workplace flexibility takes is the use of adjustable furniture in the workplace. Adjustable furniture refers to furniture that can be adjusted according to the user’s whims and wishes to a position which they feel is most comfortable to them. An example of this is an adjustable desk which can be raised if the user feels like working on his/her feet and lowered if the user would rather work sitting down (although, working standing up is way healthier than working sitting down which has been proven to lead to obesity, heart complications and several other health issues). Adjustable furniture allows employees to make a choice as to how they want to work.

Ability to own and use personal effects: workplace flexibility gives a lot of power to the employees in terms of the place he/she will be using to work. One of the ways this shows its face is through the acceptance of memorabilia within the office environment. This is to say that employees are allowed to bring their own personal effects and use it within the workplace in their personal working space.

Open workplaces: open workplace is a form of workplace flexibility that is gaining ground. It involves the sectioning of different parts of a workplace such that different sections are meant for different purposes. For instance, sections where staff can gather to talk, interact, eat and freely exchange ideas, quiet sections where people who need to be alert and completely focused can go to get work done as well as general working spaces where people conduct their businesses on a normal basis.

11 Disadvantages of Workplace Flexibility

As already mentioned, workplace flexibility can constitute a big problem if not properly managed. The following are the disadvantages it poses to any employer thinking of adopting it.

1. Unreliable and untrustworthy employees
One of the problems you might encounter when you adopt workplace flexibility is the fact that not all your staff members can be trusted or relied upon to get their work done. While some people use this opportunity to better at what they do, others will certainly see it as a means to be lazy and do nothing. Since you won’t know what exactly those employees of yours are doing, you will not be able to take measures to prevent their being lazy and incompetent. This particular problem will lead to a decrease in productivity as opposed to the increase that would normally be expected from adopting a flexible workplace arrangement. This is why it is important that measures is put in place to ensure that employees are actually accomplishing their tasks as opposed to spending their time doing unproductive tasks.

2. A problem with managing time

Yet another of the disadvantages that comes with workplace flexibility is the fact that it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to manage. This applies to those scenarios where the employee is allowed to come to work at any time of his/her choosing to accomplish his/her task.

3. The need for structure for some

While some employees are just purely unreliable and use the opportunity of a workplace flexibility to be unproductive, some others simply require a set structure in order to accomplish some tasks. This makes it necessary that even with the advances in technology and the adoption of workplace flexibility in several countries of the world, it is still important and necessary to have a traditional workplace.

4. An inability to separate being at home and being at work

People who have tapped into workplace flexibility might find it a bit hard to make the distinction between being at home and being at work. This is because we are naturally programmed to relaxing at home, as such, we might find it a bit hard to motivate ourselves to do more, do better.

5. Handling clients

One of the disadvantages that might crop up from having a flexible workplace is attending to clients especially when they do not operate a similar schedule.

6. Unsuitability

Adoption of workplace flexibility might be a bit of a stretch for some employee roles, for example, those who work in teams. This is because it might easily mess up with how these teams coordinate and work. Imagine a scenario where each member of a team chooses a different time to work, how would anything get done then? As such, it is important that certain ground rules are set for such occurrences such that they will be sorted out before they threaten your organization’s cohesion and peace.

Other examples of employee roles that don’t really work well with workplace flexibility are a receptionist role and a customer care representative role.

7. Security

There are certain forms of workplace flexibility and one of these is the opportunity for employees to go t work whenever they wish. This can cause security issues especially for those who prefer to work late into the night. As such, having a flexible workplace might prove quite challenging in rough areas with less than premium security.

8. Overtime costs

One of the disadvantages of workplace flexibility is the fact that it can result in employees working beyond their scheduled time which means that the employer will have to pay them for overtime spent at work.

9. Technology costs

In a situation whereby employees can just as easily accomplish their tasks from anywhere in the world as in the workplace, there will be a need to provide employees with gadgets such as laptop computers, smartphones and such that will help them accomplish their tasks. This might constitute additional cost for the organization and is thus, a disadvantages.

10. A decrease in human relation and interaction

Workplace flexibility can lead to a rift being created among employees of a given company. This is to say that since employees will be able to work from anywhere they want – including from the comfort of their homes – there will be an absence of human interaction between people who are coworkers.

11. It can engender dissatisfaction

In a situation whereby some employees get to have flexible hours whereas some others cannot, feelings of dissatisfaction might arise where those who do not get flexible hours will feel they are being treated unfairly.

Just as workplace flexibility has many advantages, so does it have its disadvantages. You should, however, know that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. This article has been put together with the hope that being aware of the disadvantages of this working arrangement will help employers and business owners better combat the issues.

Related Question

Why is workplace flexibility good?

Workplace flexibility is good for several reasonsOpens in a new tab. one of which is the fact that it inadvertently leads to an increase in productivity which leads to better profit for the organization. It also helps the employee have more time for his/her family as well as for other things such that he/she can live a more balanced life.

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