Full disclosure, I wrote this article just before companies started sending employees home to work due to the Coronavirus. It was scheduled to go live mid-March and I hit the pause button. But with companies starting to re-consider opening their offices in a limited capacity, it seemed like the time to resurrect this.
Running a company fully remote for the past two months has demonstrated how effective remote work can be. It’s even convinced some “butts in seats” non-believers to embrace more work flexibility. But in case you are a die-heart office lover and are still on the fence, here are 7 reasons to lean into flexible work arrangements.
1. Workplace flexibility is essential for many workers.
Even before Coronavirus forced droves of companies to go fully remote, the work/life balance and convenience that workplace flexibility allows was fast becoming more important to employees. What was once a rare luxury had become a core offering for companies competing for top talent. And now that a whole new group of workers has experienced that flexibility, it’s going to be hard to go back to 100% office all the time.
…for 84% of working parents, workplace flexibility is the most important factor in a job.OpenView survey
Prior to the pandemic, OpenView Partners surveyed 360+ full-time workers in the tech industry, and 70% of respondents considered workplace flexibility benefits to be “critical.” OpenView also found that for 84% of working parents, workplace flexibility is the most important factor in a job—a statistic backed by FlexJobs, who’s 2016 survey had many working parents ranking workplace flexibility as more important than the salary.
2. Workplace flexibility helps companies find—and keep—good employees.
This is one of the main reasons I am a remote work fan. You want the best talent? You need a “talent anywhere” philosophy and you also need to offer flexibility.
In their 2018 Future Workforce Report, Upwork stated that 39% of managers say hiring is getting harder. Of those, 53% cited that the biggest hurdle in the hiring process was finding the right talent in the right place.
By offering remote work options, on the other hand, you can open a position to qualified workers from around the world. The pool of potential candidates becomes much broader overnight.
The pool of potential candidates becomes much broader overnight.
Plus, workplace flexibility is already very important for younger workers. A Fundera study showed that 68% of young workers reported that workplace flexibility greatly impacted their decision on whether or not to join a company.
And according to the 2017 State of Remote Work report from Owl Labs, it takes companies with remote work options 33% less time to hire new employees than companies that hire only in certain locations.
And once a company finds those remote workers, they have a better chance of keeping them, too. That same Owl Labs report states that companies offering workplace flexibility have 25% lower employee turnover than companies that don’t.
3. Workplace flexibility makes employees more productive.
Stanford University conducted a two-year study of 500 employees who worked from home and in a traditional setting and found that those who did remote work from home demonstrated a significant increase in productivity. In fact, the extra productivity among home-based workers was the equivalent of a full day’s work being added each week. Think about that and let it sink in.
The extra productivity among home-based workers was the equivalent of a full day’s work being added each week.
There are likely a lot of factors contributing to that increase in productivity, but one factor is definitely that happier workers make better workers. In 2019, Owl Labs released a set of statistics on remote work from home. They revealed that employees who work from home at least once a month are 24% more likely to report feeling happy at their jobs.
4. It decreases employee sick days and time off.
Because employees working from home don’t generally have a reason to call in sick, some employers with workplace flexibility are already wondering whether sick days have become obsolete.
When designing flexible work cultures I favor a pretty clear distinction. If you are sick, want to work and can work, go for it. If you don’t want to work, or can’t work, then don’t. It’s pretty simple when you work from home to make these decisions with your health in mind.
That decrease in sick days with remote work from home isn’t just a benefit to employers, though. Because employees working from home aren’t exposed to germs in a traditional workspace, they’re less likely to get sick in the first place. Who doesn’t want to avoid illness if they can?
Obviously, this is more true now than ever before.
5. It cuts costs for employers.
In 2018, U.S. companies offering remote work options saved an estimated $5 billion in costs, and that’s only counting part-time employees.
By embracing workplace flexibility, employers can reduce or eliminate a variety of overhead costs, such as operating expenses and real estate. For example, according to statistics from PGI News, the average real estate savings for employers with full-time remote workers is $10,000 per employee every year.
By embracing workplace flexibility, employers can reduce or eliminate a variety of overhead costs, such as operating expenses and real estate.
But once again, employers aren’t the only ones who benefit from workplace flexibility. Employees working from home can save about $7,000 a year on average according to figures from TECLA. Most of those savings come from lowering or eliminating the costs of commuting, eating out, buying extra work clothing, and finding quality child care.
6. Not offering workplace flexibility can hurt companies.
There are quite a few benefits that come with greater workplace flexibility, to be sure. There are also quite a few potential dangers for companies that don’t offer them. As workplace flexibility becomes a must-have for employees, companies without remote work options could have trouble finding employees.
And by refusing workplace flexibility, those companies also risk losing employees they already have. In Zenefits’ 2018 Flexible Work Report, 36% of workers said that they were likely to leave a job due to the lack of workplace flexibility.
7. Workplace flexibility is here to stay.
It was here to stay before Coronavirus, and that’s only accelerated now. According to a study from Global Workplace Analytics and FlexJobs, remote work grew by 91% from 2009–2019. It isn’t going anywhere, either. In a 2019 report on the State of Remote Work, Buffer surveyed nearly 2,500 remote workers. 99% said that they wanted to do remote work from home at least part of the time for the rest of their careers.
Once a knowledge worker has experienced remote work, it’s hard to convince them to go back fully to 100% office.
There are ample proven benefits in offering workplace flexibility, and with 51% of employees wishing their company offered more workplace flexibility, it’s in a company’s best interest to listen.