Flexibility—both hours and location—increase productivity, reduce operating expenses and risk.
Increasingly employees are demanding flexibility—in terms of work schedules, location, and/or processes, and companies are doing what they can to comply. According to the International Workplace Group’s (IWG) 2019 global workplace survey, 62% of 15,000 respondents said their company has a flexible work policy in place, mainly due to worker demand. The vast majority (85%) said that flexibility has resulted in increased productivity; and 65% said that flexible work arrangements help their company reduce operating expenses and manage risk.
Stressing the importance of considering flexibility policies, 4 of 5 respondents said that, when faced with two similar employment offers, they would turn down the one that didn’t offer flexible work options. In fact, a growing number of companies are using flexibility as a benefit to attract and keep top employees. As replacing senior director-level staff can be extremely expensive, more businesses are using flexible workplaces to improve retention and overall satisfaction through improved work-life balance and reduced commuting. Statistics indicate that by 2030, the U.S. could see an economic boost of as much as $4.5 trillion annually from flexible workplaces.
The study suggested that flexibility is a key strategy to improve workplace diversity by increasing the inclusion of groups that traditionally struggle to balance personal and work life. This includes working parents, family caregivers, and individuals with physical disabilities.
Among other key findings in the study:
- 74% of people consider flexible working to be the new normal.
- 54% said that having a choice of work location is more important than working for a prestigious company.
- 41% said that having a choice of work location is more important than never working overtime.
- 25% said they would like to live in another area, but don’t because it would increase commuting time.
- 81% of respondents said that a flexible workplace policy enables access to a more diverse range of workers.
- 56% said that creative teams are more productive in open areas.
Of course, it is important for everyone in your organization to have a common understanding of “flexibility.” About one-fifth of workers describe flexible working as the “ability to make some decisions regarding their working hours.” One-fourth associate it with being able to manage their workload, and more than half equate it with being able to choose their work location (such as home versus office).
According to Mark Dixon, IWG founder and CEO, “The evidence is stacking up that modern businesses simply must embrace a flexible working culture on at least some level in order to stay competitive.” Nonetheless, resistance still exists; and the survey results show that 60% of business people report that changing a long-standing non-flexible working culture is an obstacle to introducing flexibility. Two of three respondents said they are concerned about how increased flexibility could impact company culture. Dixon acknowledged that “there are critical obstacles that need to be addressed, such as the provision of conducive workspace and the appropriate technology to get the job done.”