Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lynn Adamsen. Her opinions are her own.
When it comes to workplace flexibility, we are used to hearing employees asking for this type of company culture. Although their reasons seem pretty one-sided and gravitate around work/life balance, reducing the cost of transportation, work attire, etc. we have to ask if there is anything employers could get out of that kind of deal.
Sure, every business owner knows that a happy worker is a productive worker but what if the productivity isn’t lacking? Are there any other reasons why employers should answer to growing demands for flexible working conditions? Let’s try and figure out if there’s a company benefit in this whole thing.
In order to implement flexible workplace options, every department needs to be included in the implementation process. This makes reluctant CEOs more eager to throw away the whole idea, but let’s see what it actually takes to institute a flexible workplace option.
IT needs to be compliant with the new working conditions. It’s not enough to simply allow employees to work from home, a hotel or the train. There are security issues to take into consideration as you probably want to keep your data safe from unauthorized access.
HR should also be included in order to select leaders who are comfortable and able to work with people that aren’t physically in the office during regular workin hours. Some people find it hard to work in such conditions so this presents an obstacle for most business owners when it comes to the implementation of a flexible workplace program.
Marketing also plays a significant role as they need to make sure those employees that work remotely remain true to company values and brand principals. This means that marketing has to provide content that will keep everyone on the same page when it comes to promoting the company and its values on the market.
According to recent research, around 2.9 percent of Americans are working remotely at least half of the time. Although this doesn’t seem like a monumental figure, it actually represents a 115 percent jump when compared to 2005 results. Additional research shows that a lack of workplace flexibility costs American business owners a staggering 1.8 billion dollars only on account of simple workplace distractions, employee vices, and health issues. The list includes:
- Noisy environment
- Cigarettes and coffee breaks
- Fantasy football
- Chatty colleagues
- Lack of sleep
Just think of all those “I hate Mondays” internet memes.
On the other side, when large companies announce revoking of flexible workplace positions on account of a slight drop in productivity, we have to ask if they took the next few points into consideration.
1. More money saved per worker
In additional to salary, the average employee costs around $10.000 per year. The expenses include office space, utilities, office supplies, etc. These are all everyday costs that don’t include the money employers spend on sick leave, hours paid while workers spend time in the office playing online games, paying for transport, and various other costly circumstances. The American Express Blue Work program saved between 10-15 million dollars in real estate only.
Not to mention regular flu outbreaks that start with one person coming to the office while sick and end up with half the team staying home for a few weeks. The more of your employees work from home, the more money you save that you can invest in further development of your company.
2. Improved retention and hiring potential
Attracting talent requires more than just a fat pay check.
Around 80 percent of professionals say that flexible workplace positions are more attractive to them. In fact, 39 percent of those surveyed declined a raise or a promotion, or quit their job in favour of more flexible working condition.
A study conducted by Upwork shows that 53% of hiring agents agree that quality talent is in short supply. So if you’re looking to retain your top professionals or hire new talent, think about adding a flexible workplace option instead of spending money on a company car, phone, and other attractions that actually cost the company money.
Additionally, the fact that an employee doesn’t have to travel each day in order to work gives you a chance to hire people from all over the world. This is important because in some countries professionals work for double or even three times less money while delivering the same results as their counterparts in more developed economies. In other words, there’s a larger pool of talent to pick from and a chance to get a highly talented professional for less money than it would cost you to “shop local”.
3. Reduced turnover
A Chinese travel agency “Ctrip” with over 16,000 employees conducted an experiment in cooperation with Stanford University. The experiment included Ctrip call center workers who were randomly assigned to work either from home or within the office for nine months.
The results of this experiment showed that those working remotely displayed a 13 percent higher performance including more calls per minute per shift. It appears that call center employees used fewer breaks and sick leave during the nine month period, which resulted in a reduced turnover.
4. The younger generation prefers working from home
The digital era gave birth to a new generation of people who find working remotely more attractive than working in an office. AfterCollege conducted a career insight survey which shows that 68 percent of millennial job seekers prefer companies that offer flexible working conditions.
According to this data, it is possible that finding suitable talent in the future could rely heavily on workplace flexibility options. This is an important fact to keep in mind, especially if your company is planning to hire and train fresh blood that just graduated. Working 9-5 is not something that younger people see as a career opportunity.
5. Improved productivity
There are different experiences when it comes to the productivity of off-site workers. Companies such as IBM – that ended its decade-long workplace flexibility culture – reported a decrease in productivity by their workers. On the other hand, the increasing number of companies that offer flexible working conditions sings a different tune.
Furthermore, CoSo conducted a remote collaborative workers survey that showed promising figures. According to their survey, around 77% of remote workers show higher productivity with 30% of people managing to finish more work in less time than in the office. Additional 24% of workers accomplish more in the same amount of time, while the other 23% are willing to spend more time in order to complete even more tasks.
When commenting on the results of the flexible workplace policy at PwC, Debra Eckersley, Human Capital partner, stated,“We would overwhelmingly say it has had a positive impact on our productivity. We are a people business so it is all about how we enable our people to be at their best and we know they are at their best when they feel their life is under control.”
PwC decided to extend their flexible workplace program to all of their 6000 employees.
Although flexible workplaces are still widely considered as an employee perk, the number of flexible workplaces is on the rise and it’s estimated that by 2020 around 50% of workers will perform their tasks remotely.
However, it is still under debate if this type of work is really just employees trying to get the most of their bosses or it actually holds a great value for the company. True, it’s not simple to implement such a program, especially on a wide scale, but there are numbers that speak of significant ROI.
What is your opinion on this topic? Is it better to attract job seekers with more money or flexible working conditions?