Six Things Leadership Teams Think About Flexible Work Environments
Flexible work arrangements have seemingly dominated employment conversations as of late – and for good reason. With droves of employees shifting from on-site to remote working arrangements, employees, managers, and leaders alike have altered workflows, communication, and expectations.
Despite the many documented benefits of remote work, 50 percent of leaders say that they require (or will require in the next year) for employees to return to work – on-site and permanently.
In particular, there is a growing disconnect between leaders and employees over remote work. Keep reading to learn more about the pros and cons leadership teams find when discussing flexible work environments.
Three Pros of Flexible Work Environments
1. Retains Top Talent
Offering flexible work arrangements helps leaders attract and retain top talent in a hot job market. In fact, flexibility is a top consideration for employees.
- 40 percent of global job candidates report that flexibility is in the top three benefits when considering taking a job.
- 81 percent of employees claim that they would be more loyal to their employer if they had flexible work options.
- 90% of employees who left the workforce, and later returned, said that controlling where they work is critical.
- 75% of employees claimed that having control over when they work was critical to accepting a new job.
- 60% of employees (who work in person) and 80% of employees (who work with a hybrid or remote schedule) state that having control over how they work was an important factor when accepting a new job.
2. Increases Employee Productivity
Over the past couple of years, employees have proven to be more productive through flexible working schedules. And employees agree.
For example, in a 2021 survey, 43 percent of employee respondents claimed that they achieved more with a flexible schedule, and 30 percent noted that little or no commuting boosted their productivity.
Another study found that remote employees work 1.4 more days monthly, adding up to 16.8 days annually. And for each of those days, remote employees were more productive. Where employees on-site lost 37 minutes daily due to distractions, remote employees only lost 27 minutes daily.
3. Boosts Employee Engagement
Flexible work environments also drive employee engagement, helping leaders drive key performance indicators (KPIs). When employees are engaged, they’re not just happier, more energetic, and more positive. According to decades of Gallup research, engaged employees have 41 percent lower absenteeism, 40 percent fewer quality issues, and 21 percent higher profitability.
Over the past couple of years, Gallup has confirmed that flexible working schedules increase employee engagement. For example, when employees spend 60 – 80 percent of their time working remotely, engagement increases – supporting hybrid work schedules.
Three Cons of Flexible Work Environments
1. Losing Grasp on Corporate Culture
Flexible working environments can present challenges for leadership teams – with creating and maintaining culture at the top of that list. Many leaders are struggling to develop a team-based culture based on virtual connections.
In fact, 86 percent of leaders claim that maintaining company culture within hybrid work arrangements is “an ongoing pressure point.” For example, leaders are struggling with onboarding new employees in a remote culture while also trying to create a culture where employees don’t have shared on-site experiences, according to Harvard Business Review.
However, the first hurdle to creating and maintaining culture in a flexible work atmosphere is “acknowledging that culture can no longer be forged in the same way as it was in an office-centric model.” Today, leaders may find themselves wholly resetting corporate culture with hybrid or remote employees.
2. Forgetting to Recognize Remote Employees
Out of sight, out of mind? Unfortunately, this holds true for many corporate leaders who may forget to recognize remote employees while giving more recognition and opportunities to those with “face time.”
It’s called proximity bias, where leaders value employees on-site more than those in a remote environment. Although seemingly antiquated, more than four out of ten leaders ranked proximity bias as their top concern regarding inequities between on-site versus remote employees, according to Slack’s Future Forum consortium.
On the other hand, leaders prefer working in the office three days a week – and they want their employees there too – bringing additional attention to the ever-increasing discrepancy between what leaders want and what employees want.
3. Lacking the Resources
With leaders having to shift employees to remote locations seemingly overnight in the early days of the pandemic, not many had the benefit of time to embrace new working arrangements. Instead, employers urgently shifted employees home, with safety concerns top of mind.
Now, with remote and hybrid work arrangements here to stay, leaders may lack the resources to truly embrace and benefit from flexible working environments.
Here are some concerns among leaders as they determine whether to implement strategic working arrangements moving forward:
- Lack of technology
- Little or no corporate buy-in
- Failing to create workable policies and procedures
- Fearing experimentation on what works and what doesn’t
- Not understanding how to monitor employees’ work
- Lack of leadership training for managing a remote workforce
Where to Start?
Is your leadership team struggling with talent management solutions for flexible working environments? Cangrade can help.