Among the many aspects of their jobs that employees today value most, flexibility is certainly one of the biggest. More companies are beginning to offer their workers the option to work remotely, which is helping satisfy the increasing number of professionals demanding a healthier work-life balance. However, workplace flexibility isn’t just about convenience – it is also about productivity.
Research recently conducted by FlexJobs found that a mere 7 percent of workers today think that working traditional hours in the office is the place where they are most productive. So where do they prefer?
- Home (more than 51 percent)
- Coffee shop, library, coworking space, etc. (8 percent)
- Office during non-traditional hours (8 percent)
Twenty-six percent of the survey participants said that they only go into the office during normal working hours because another location isn’t an option. Furthermore, the majority, or 65 percent, agreed that they would be more productive working remotely than going into the office.
Why do people prefer telecommuting?
Obviously, there is a wide-spread sentiment that telecommuting is the preferred method for working. One might assume people like to work from home because it is more comfortable and convenient – and they wouldn’t exactly be wrong. But while 51 percent of respondents named a “more comfortable office environment” as their reason for wanting to telecommute, many more people agreed on reasons beside this.
According to FlexJobs, top reasons employees prefer remote workspaces is due to:
- Fewer coworker-related interruptions (76 percent)
- Fewer distractions (75 percent)
- Fewer meetings (69 percent)
- Less workplace politics (68 percent)
- Eliminates stress associated with commuting (67 percent)
As the source pointed out, these findings indicate a major issue with how employers today are managing the workplace environment and corporate culture. Organizations that continue to operate on an outdated framework for workforce management are going to suffer from lower retention rates and employee disengagement.
What can employers do?
To reduce employee turnover and improve recruitment effectiveness, companies must incorporate flexible arrangement options. While offering workers the ability to work from home is a great place to start, there are also other ways to give more flexibility, such as allowing employees to create a flexible work schedule or telecommute part time.
One of the biggest concerns managers tend to have with workplace flexibility is that it will lead to increased costs. However, to put it into perspective, in addition to the increase in productivity levels that research has shown can be gleaned from it, FlexJobs also revealed that 29 percent and 22 percent of respondents said they would be willing to take a pay cut and forfeit vacation time, respectively, in exchange for telecommuting options.
To capitalize on flexible work arrangements, while still ensuring employee engagement and productivity levels (and, therefore profit margins), remain high, it is helpful if employers consider what issues are turning team members away from wanting to work in the office and working to resolve those.
Tips for effective workforce flexibility
When it comes to improving the workplace environment, managers should consider what changes they can make to ensure it’s more comfortable for employees. For example, with colleague interruptions and distractions being the top reasons for telecommuting, it is worth considering how a different layout may give the workers who prefer to work quietly and independently the silence they need (open-space areas for collaboration versus closed-off working stations).
According to FlexJobs, as many as six hours a day (or 28 billion hours a year) are wasted on interruptions in the workplace. So it is easy to understand why employees feel they are – or would be – more productive working outside the office. The job of employers is to provide them with the arrangements they need to do just that.