A happy workforce
The most persuasive case for flexible work may be the resulting happiness and well-being of the workforce, and its effect on productivity. As mentioned in the previous post in this series, many studies show a connection between flexible work arrangements, happiness and productivity. The secret lies in the trust-based, fair and open cultures and sense of personal autonomy that these workplaces foster.
Providing the variety and flexibility employees desire is also key to workplace satisfaction. However, pre-pandemic workplace studies conducted by Rapal found that the optimal time spent working remotely was on average only 20% according to the respondents. This shows moderation and balance between a sense of belonging and the need for face-to-face collaboration with colleagues on the one hand, and personal independence on the other. Many newer studies from 2020-2022 also indicate that the proportion of remote work will remain at much greater levels than ever before in the future too. People will be going into the office more purposefully, e.g. to collaborate and socialize.
What else does flex work bring?
Other benefits include:
- Financial benefits: in addition to cost savings from decreased commuting and increases in employee productivity, the need for office space will decline as desk sharing policies, activity-based office types, workplace-as-a-service deals with coworking spaces and other sharing economy concepts (e.g. car sharing and city bicycles) are introduced.
- Environmental benefits: as with costs, the reductions in both travel and office space have a direct impact on emissions and pollution. Social: in addition to enhancing trust, more independence employee motivation. Many will experience an increased sense of belonging, as improved management styles and new team agreements provide better routines for touching base more regularly. Flexibility in terms of location also means that employees can be more present in other roles they have as partners, children, parents, and citizens. The new mobility can also have positive impacts on both mental and physical health.
- Competitive benefits: an empathetic workplace that provides a flexible work-life balance will naturally be able to better attract and retain the best talent. And with better possibilities for remote working, you will also expand your pool of potential talent that lives further away from your head office.
Is there a downside?
Some tech companies have recently argued against flex work, however their concerns are related to distributed work, where teams work remotely all the time, rather than working flexibly. Issues may arise in poorly managed, large and disconnected teams that allow geographically dispersed team members to become secluded, disconnected, unmotivated and distracted. This can lead to less collaboration, innovation and productivity than the remote work policy originally intended.
Such concerns have recently led many tech companies that allow employees to work from home full-time to pull their workforce back to the office. However, this move may prove to be risky when it comes to retaining your best employees, who may value their work-life balance above financial compensation or the mission of the company. Instead of a full reversal of flex work strategies, a company would do well to implement flexibility in moderation.
One simple, direct, and effective approach to finding the right balance for your company’s flex work policy is to collect input from your employees and information on how they work.