It’s not all about the benjamins. Today’s workers increasingly value the ability to work where and when they want, with many saying it’s even more important than pay.
As a long-time remote worker — I currently write remotely for Biteable’s blog — I can personally vouch for the benefits of flexible work.
At Biteable, our marketing team is spread over San Francisco, Melbourne, London, Hobart and Seoul. We stay in touch using tools like Slack, and have weekly meetings on Google Hangouts. Most people don’t work 5 days a week, and can work whenever they like. It’s an arrangement that offers some major benefits, both for our team members, and for the company.
Here are five ways employees and employers around the world benefit from flexible work policies.
Closing the gender gap
“The main reason for the gender gaps at work — why women are paid less, why they’re less likely to reach the top levels of companies, and why they’re more likely to stop working after having children — is employers’ expectation that people spend long hours at their desks, research has shown.” – The New York TImes
More flexibility when it comes to work can drastically improve the gap, by attracting and keeping more women in the workforce. But women aren’t the only ones who value flexible work — nearly half of dads also say they want a flexible workplace culture. When dads can more easily juggle work and home responsibilities, moms (and kids) benefit too.
When employees can schedule work around their lives, instead of the other way around, they can pursue passions like travel, education, hobbies, or volunteer work. But employees aren’t the only ones to benefit from flexible work.
For employers, flexible work options can attract skilled employees who bring their own unique perspectives to the table. Many of these candidates might not have even applied otherwise.
A wider talent pool
Flexible work means more options, both for employees and employers. When employers don’t insist on employees being physically in the office from 8-5, Monday through Friday, they’re able to cast a wider net when hiring.
This can open up new opportunities to qualified candidates who might have otherwise faced schedule conflicts due to kids, medical appointments, or long commutes.
Stay-at-home or single parents, military spouses, or professionals with medical needs or disabilities all benefit from these work arrangements.
Allowing remote work broadens the talent pool further, by not limiting potential employees to those in the immediate area, and saving employers from paying relocation costs.
Whether an employee wants to travel abroad while keeping their job, or wants to live in a smaller town or a rural area with few local opportunities, remote work makes it possible.
While employers might fear that remote workers are spending more time on Netflix than Excel, research shows that’s not the case. One study found that employees were more productive at home than in the office. These workers made on average 13.5% more calls per week than workers in the office, translating to roughly one extra work day every week. They also reported a higher rate of job satisfaction.
Moreover, in today’s global, hyper-connected world, business doesn’t happen on a 9-5 schedule. Having employees working from anywhere, at any time, can mean quicker response times and improved customer service.
Fewer distractions, more efficient, engaged workers, decreased stress, and improved retention all translate to more productive employees.
Now, more than ever, work-life balance is a top priority for employees, especially for millennials and parents. The ability to adjust one’s working hours play a major role in achieving it.
Many employees today opt for part-time or flexible work in order to pursue passions or education, or care for children or aging relatives. Working remotely, or working in the evenings or on weekends makes this possible, while helping employees to maintain balance, and avoid stress.
When employees are stressed and overworked, productivity suffers. Happier, more empowered employees means improved performance, decreased turnover, and fewer absences and sick days.
For employers, the cost savings of a remote workplace can be tremendous. The cost of office space, especially in major urban hubs like San Francisco, Melbourne, and London has skyrocketed. Not to mention utilities, cleaning and maintenance, furniture, office supplies, and all the other smaller expenses that come with a physical space. Even shutting down the office for one day a week could make a difference for the bottom line, especially when combined with the other benefits of remote work.
Employees benefit from remote work too, saving money on commuting costs like gas, parking, and public transit. The ability to live in an area with a lower cost of living, or save on childcare costs can likewise make a huge difference in an employee’s budget.
Flexibility isn’t just a buzzword — it’s the future of work. As worker priorities shift and technology makes flexible hours and remote work more feasible, it’s likely we’ll continue to see more employees choosing when and where they work.
With this shift, companies and employees stand to benefit from financial savings, increased productivity, higher worker satisfaction, a wider job/talent pool, and a move towards more equality in the workplace.