For the vast majority of companies, flexible work schedules are still optional and largely understood as a perk, not a standard operating procedure. But productivity studies clearly show us that the amount of hours workers spent at the office isn't a prerequisite for a business to achieve its key objectives.
That's why many forward-thinking business owners are keeping a close eye on recent workforce trends and pick up ones that offer a real potential in boosting employee productivity. Many of them already understand that workforce culture is clearly moving towards flexible work schedules is a new normal way of doing business.
This survey conducted by FlexJobs on over 1,500 job seekers who reported looking for more flexible work options makes this trend a clear reality. FlexJobs basically wanted to learn why this option is so attractive to workers. They wanted to learn why working from home or having a flexible schedule are appreciated by professionals and what kind of impact they have on companies.
The results of the survey clearly show that all kinds of workers, representing different generations, careers and life stages, consider flexible working schedule a priority.
If you want to make the most from the time employees give you, you should also consider introducing flexible schedule options. This is how you'll be able to compete for and attract top talent in field, boosting employee retention rates and becoming a leader in business.
Why do workers like flexible schedules so much?
What are the main reasons behind workers' appreciation for flexible work options? The vast majority of surveyed professionals – a smashing 74%! – admitted that the number one reason for them was work-life balance.
Another important reason are connected to health and exercise, as well as family reasons. 52% of respondents consider flexible work schedules beneficial to their health, and the same number admits that it simply makes their family lives easier to manage.
Other important reasons were the possibility to save time and reduce stress associated with commuting – 47% of surveyed workers admitted those to be their main work pains. Cost savings were important for 43% of respondents. Other noteworthy reasons included condition of their local job market and more opportunities to travel around the world.
Working from home – the new normal?
Professionals like the idea of working from home because aspects of office environment or commuting negatively affect their productivity – both at home and at work! 54% of respondents of the survey answered this question: “Where do you go when you really need to get something done for work?” with home, not the office.
Home was easily their top location to undertake key job-related assignments. Interestingly, 18% of surveyed professional admitted that they would prefer to complete such tasks at the office, but outside standard hours. Only 19% of them said they would head straight to the office to do something important for their project. This makes one thing clear – for many professionals, home is where they can get things done quickly and efficiently.
Now that you think about it, it's clear why professional like flexible work schedules. Employers who require people to report every single task make the work in question much more difficult. One way to address this problem is introducing hybrid arrangements – like 50-50 split between working at the office and remotely from home.
This kind of mixed work environment allows employees to collaborate face-to-face, but at the same time gives the an opportunity to choose alternative locations for independent work when they really need to focus.
Offices and stress
One way employers can deal with this phenomenon is by taking a close look at their offices. The survey showed that 61% of respondents consider home to be a better place for productive work than the office mainly because there are no office politics to participate in. Another good reason were fewer interruptions from colleagues – this was important for 59% of surveyed professionals.
56% cited fewer general distractions – be it buzzing equipment or uncomfortable chairs. Even if teams are an essential part of any successful company, the trend toward more in-person collaboration by removing walls and making people work in open workspace has a negative effect on productivity. And that's something many workers actually notice.
How companies can benefit from flexible work schedules
Now that you see that flexible work schedules make employees happier than ever, you should consider what companies have to gain from this kind of work environments. According to survey respondents, there are many clear benefits coming from flexible work options, but the most important ones are:
- Increased productivity – this is the single most important advantage brought by the introduction of flexible schedules to a work environment. Survey results show that employee who can leave the office get more work done and don't suffer from frequent interruptions from colleagues.
- Cost savings – by employing a remote group of workers, companies can save a huge amount of funds on real estate and office costs. But that's not all. 20% of surveyed respondents admitted that they would easily accept a 10% pay cut if offered flexible work options. Moreover, 22% of them were also ready to forgo their benefit rights. Finally 18% of respondents said that they'd have nothing against working longer hours. You can only imagine what all this could mean for a company that wants to cut costs where possible to maintain a lean business model.
- Boost in recruiting and employee retention – the vast majority of surveyed professionals said they would be much more loyal towards their employers if they were offered flexible work arrangements. We're talking here about a smashing 82%! Employee retention and satisfaction are also significant factors – 39% of respondents admitted that they turned down a promotion, refused to take on or totally quit their job because of a lack of flexible work options.
How flexible work impacts companies
Working in remote is a natural part of office life today. Just look around and you'll see that many professional use mobile devices to connect with work-related material or answer messages outside the office and often after hours.
As an increasing number of workers switches to more remote and mobile work environments, especially professionals occupying leadership positions, our expectations about work are bound to change to include more options that the classic 9 to 5 model.
Many experts believe that it will take half a decade for remote work to become the new normal as companies realize its potential benefits. Still, there are leaders like Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! who made her expectations about office life very clear when she openly forbid remote working model at the company.
Professionals can be sure, however, that many companies will harness the momentum of this new development, build it into a formalized program and offer new flexible work options to maximize their benefits – both for the company and staff.
Occasional semi-flexible work hours, alternative schedules or telecommuting are a good way to start. They can all me molded to fit the company's needs and the requirements of employees. Flexible work isn't a radical cut form traditional working schedule – it's an ability to have an open mind about work environments, and being flexible about them.
And that quality of flexibility is what will increasingly differentiate between entrepreneurial success and failure in the near future.