Is Flexible Working the Future?
It was unusual for businesses to have flexible and remote working policies prior to the pandemic. Fast forward two-and-a-half years, however, and it has become the norm as organizations were forced to work in a more flexible, agile way—not just in terms of where employees work from but how they work, too.
Genuine flexible working, when properly implemented and managed, can be a win not only for workers but also for employers. Flexible working can enable workers to balance their work and home lives, is important in promoting equality at work, and, in the age of the so-called “Great Resignation”, can lead to improved recruitment and retention of workers.
What is Flexible Working?
‘Flexible working’ is a term that’s used to describe any work arrangement that allows employees to work outside of company offices or standard hours. This can include part-time work, condensed hours, telecommuting, remote work, and flexi-time.
Rewind just a few years and it was the case that flexible working was seen as a rare benefit for employees. Just before the pandemic, however, a trend was emerging amongst more forward-thinking organizations that understood the business benefits of allowing flexible working, such as higher productivity and a strengthened reputation.
The pandemic simply strengthened this trend, and nowadays there’s a real appetite for it among workers. According to the U.S. Remote Work Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), over half of all employees want to work remotely three days a week or more, with 29 percent of participants indicating that they want to work remotely five days per week. In other words, they want to be given the option to have complete control over where and how they work.
The Benefits of Workplace Flexibility
If your business hasn’t kept flexible work schedules that were implemented in response to the pandemic, it might be time to rethink your position on the subject. As the face of the workforce changes, employees are demanding more flexibility from employers to accommodate their lifestyles.
According to a survey by Owl Labs, more than 70 percent of participants said that working from home made them happier. This survey also found that one in two workers wouldn’t return to a job that doesn’t offer flexible working. Employee retention is just one of many reasons why organizations should seriously consider enabling more flexible working. Some of the others include:
- Workforce diversification: When organizations allow flexible working, empty positions can be filled much more quickly by a wider, more geographically dispersed pool of talent. It’s not uncommon for leaders in the flexible working space to have workforces that span the entire globe.
- Lower operational costs: It’s cheaper to allow employees to work flexibly because organizations might be able to downsize their offices and reduce spending on employee benefits such as company cars and travel.
- Improved performance and engagement: With more autonomy through remote working, employees perform much better in their roles over the long term and are more likely to be engaged with the business. What’s more, over half of all employees say that they would change jobs for one that offers them more flexibility, so providing flexible work options also boosts retention.
- Better customer satisfaction: A globally dispersed team that has flexible working arrangements, such as flexi-time or condensed hours, is more likely to be able to deliver a better experience to customers through extended opening hours and higher availability. This can help to improve customer satisfaction and benefit organizations’ bottom lines.
- Attract more talent: In our post-pandemic world, flexible working is something that your prospective employees are looking for more than ever. A clear flexible working policy is something that will help organizations attract and retain the best talent. Nearly 40% of job candidates worldwide say that schedule flexibility is one of their top three factors in career decisions and 76% of millennial employees have said they would even be willing to take a pay cut for flexible working hours.
These benefits illustrate one thing: that organizations need to start embracing flexible work as a norm to get the most out of their workforce and be competitive in today’s market.
Although many organizations are still hesitant to give their employees autonomy over where, how, and when they work, there’s no shortage of recent reports and statistics that prove that flexible workplaces deliver more benefits than disadvantages.