Flexible Working: Why Top Startups Ditch the 9-to-5 Model

by Anita Kirkovska

5 min read

Lots of startups offer flexible working arrangements. But what does it really mean, and how could businesses benefit from it?

According to Mecers’ 2018 Global Talent Trends Study, 51% of employees want their company to offer more flexible options. And Harward business review research showed that 88% of employees in the US would take a lower paying job if there is a flexible working benefit.

Employees put this perk on top of their career benefits ladder. And most of us know why flexible working is becoming such a trend and a key value for digital workers today. You can manage your own time as you like, work in your most productive time of the day, reduce work stress and be and stay happy.

Work should be all about hitting objectives, building skills, meeting friends, getting paid and going home. Does it matter if you work 9-to-5 or 3-to-9? It does not.

But then again, what is the startup logic behind this strategic step? Read along.

How do we really define the flexible working arrangements?

Flexible working means a different thing for different companies.

For some, it means flexible location, which describes where work is done.
Others interpret it as a flexible schedule, in other words when work is done.
Finally, some interpret it as flexible hours, describing the number of hours worked for a period of time.

Yet, for some, flexible working isn’t just about time periods and locations. It is about getting access to an untapped talent pool.

When talking about startups, these are some of the main benefits of flexible working

Hiring the best person for the role.

In today's digitalized world, we have unlimited access to productivity and management tools. But finding time and talent are some of the most critical aspects of running a business. The industry is very crowded, and limiting your HR recruitment strategy to a convenient location won’t do any good to the business.

Even big corporations are ditching their “managerial” leveling style and they start to focus on the future of work.

As Nicole McCabe – Director of Global Diversity and Inclusion at SAP said:

“You are enabled to really attract the best talent to your organization. If a specific office location doesn't limit you, you can look anywhere in the country or anywhere on the globe.”

First of all, you will definitely need to build up the basics and train your management to loosen up the “managing”. Most of the traditional management practices describe managing as having people in the office to check with their manager or do the work together. To get ready for this shift you need to work with your management, teach, build respect and let your employees show their loyalty.

There is no other way. Clearly, the future of work is based only on trust. And if we want to achieve a transparent and functional company culture, we need to find talent who respect the values from this way of work.

This leads me to the second benefit.

Build decision oriented workforce, not time-limited.

As an entrepreneur, you sure have found yourself thinking “How could I make my employees' role in the business more valuable to them, hence to make them more motivated about hitting goals?”. Probably one of the many answers to this all-time issue lies in the flexible working arrangements.

Seems like there are more and more startups who promote flexible work. One of them is Product Hunt, a company that stands for community, employee satisfaction and is one of many who are trying to build a decision-oriented workforce. They have discovered what functions for their business model, and you need to do the same.


It is simple. When you give your employees the power to make decisions about their working arrangements,  you let them know that they are in charge. Therefore, if you expand this exercise in the company activities, you are one step closer to a decision-oriented workforce. Your employees will be more likely to see opportunities when they occur and be more alert to them.

The risk is always there, but at the end of the day, do you want loyal employees who understand your startup logic or do you want performers who don’t care about your vision?

So, how do you achieve this?

By building trust you will share the same objective

If you decide to take the path of having a flexible working arrangement in your office, you start developing employee relationships based on trust. And as you probably know, it is very hard to find suitable talent for an open vacancy in the startup world. However, retaining it still stands as the biggest challenge of them all.

Retaining talent can be achieved only if both clients and employee objectives are met.

This is close to the unachievable area.

But, what if we listen more to what our employees are telling us? What if we get to know their extracurricular activities and offer them a flex time? To work when they feel productive and reward them by hitting objectives faster? This builds respect. And it is in our human nature to be appreciative of it.

As a result, you will ultimately get to having more productive, happier and satisfied employees. And yes, if someone would try to “skate” tasks, then you know what you need to do.

As Vanessa Vanderhoek, founder of Flexible Working Day said, a present employee doesn’t necessarily equate to an engaged employee, we need to start thinking about implementing workable structures for our startups.

At the end of the day, your business needs makers, not tell-me-what-to-do employees.

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Anita Kirkovska
Anita Kirkovska
Digital Marketing, Community Building
  • Bootstrap

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